Gramps 5.0 Wiki Manual - Main Window

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Elements of Gramps main window or A Visual Guide to the Gramps Interface.

Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) are a way of arranging information on a computer screen that is easy to understand and use because it uses icons, menus, and a mouse rather than only text. While a GUI is much more intuitive than memorizing keyboard commands, it is hard to learn from the feature documentation without knowing the feature’s name to lookup. Many elements are not labeled in Gramps to reduce clutter and maximize space for displaying Genealogical information. There are even preference options to not show text labels for the buttons (icons) in the Category Navigator panel.

So this section of the Wiki Manual gives the standardized names of Gramps screen elements. Armed with the standard names, you can more efficiently use a search engine (like Google) to find pages in the online manual that discuss that element. As an example, to search for Gramps Wiki Manual pages on the "Category Navigator Mode" phrase, use following the Google search terms:

  "category navigator mode"

If a particular screen element does not appear among the images below, look through the Gramps Screenshot Gallery. This page shows the Gramps thumbnail screenshots that are used throughout the documentation. Click the thumbnail image to show the full sized image and variants of that image, then scroll down to the "File usage" section to find Wiki pages that illustrate the features within that screenshot. Likewise, the Gramps Icon Gallery identifies the proper names of icons used throughout Gramps.

Once you are familiar with the screen elements, explore the keybindings or hotkeys to learn the shortcuts for features used so frequently that keyboard shortcuts have been created.

Main Window

When opening a (new or existing) Family Tree database, the introductory Gramps Dashboard window will be shown in the "Display Area" with the Sidebar and Bottombar hidden. Upon selecting the People Category from the Navigator, the Main Window layout will updated to show the "Person (List) View" in the "Display Area". See Fig. 3.1:

Fig. 3.1 Annotated Main Gramps window parts, showing the People Category - People Tree View - example using the Grouped People option

The main Gramps window contains the following elements:

Window Title Bar

  • Window Title Bar shows the name of selected Family Tree, the name of the Category view, Gramps application name and buttons to minimize, maximize and close Gramps. The window can also be dragged from the Title Bar.


  • Menubar: The menubar (Main Menu) is located at the very top of the window (right below the window title) and provides access to all the features of Gramps.
  • Menus shown depend on which category is active
  • Clicking a menu opens its submenu

Visibility of elements

Using the menu View you can hide or unhide several elements of Main Window.


  • Toolbar: The toolbar is located right below the menubar. It gives you access to the most frequently used functions of Gramps.
  • Tools shown depend on which category is active
  • Hovering over a tool shows a tip of its function

The Toolbar can be hidden or revealed by the option in menu View ->Toolbar.


  • Navigator: The navigator is located at the left of the window and allows selection of the different categories. See Categories of the Navigator

The Navigator can be hidden or revealed by the options in menu View ->Navigator or the keybinding CTRL+M.

Display area

  • Display area: The area in the center of the Gramps window is the display area. What it displays depends on the currently selected View. We will discuss Views in detail below.

Status Bar and Progress Bar

  • Status Bar and Progress Bar: These are located at the very bottom of the Gramps window.
    • The Progress Bar is located in the lower left corner of the Gramps window. It displays the progress of time consuming operations, such as opening and saving large Family Tree databases, importing and exporting to other formats, generating web sites, etc. When you are not doing these types of operations, the Progress Bar is not shown.
    • The Status Bar is located to the right of the Progress Bar. It displays information about current Gramps activity and contextual information about the selected items.

Bottombar and Sidebar

The Gramplet Bar is also known as the Bottombar and Sidebar.

  • Bottombar: The bottombar is located below the display area.
  • Sidebar: The sidebar is located to the right of the display area.

The Bottombar and Sidebar can be individually hidden or revealed by options in menu View or the relevant keybinding. If the Sidebar is hidden the Search bar will be displayed.

The Bottombar and the Sidebar allow Gramplets and filters to be displayed alongside a view.

Gramplet Bar Menu

Fig. 3.2 Location of Gramplet Bar Menu unlabeled Down Arrowhead (∨) Add/Remove/Restore Gramplets Menu

You can also add / remove and restore the default Gramplets by clicking the (Down Arrowhead button) also known as the Gramplet Bar Menu at the far top right of the bars titles, and then using one of the options from the drop-down menu eg:

  • Gramplet Bar Menu
    • Add a gramplet - Displays a list of Gramplets available for use on that Gramplet Bar
    • Remove a gramplet - Displays a list of Gramplets currently shown on the Gramplet Bar available for removal.
    • Restore default gramplets - Displays the Restore to defaults? confirmation dialog, that allows you to restores the Gramplet Bar to its default Gramplets.

Restore to defaults? dialog
Fig. 3.3 Restore to defaults? dialog

The Restore to defaults? dialog, allows you to restore the Gramplet Bar to its default Gramplets. This action cannot be undone. Select OK to confirm or select Cancel.

Search bar

Fig. 3.4 People Category View - showing Search Bar after Sidebar has been hidden

If the Sidebar is not displayed in a Category view with a list, then the Search bar is displayed instead. Available search options vary depending on Category View you are in. Not Available in the following Category Views: Relationships, Charts, Geography.

Typing the characters into the Search bar and clicking the Find button will display only lines that match the text.

Switching Navigator modes

Fig. 3.5 Navigator mode selection drop down list

You can choose the navigator mode from the sidebar Category drop down list:

  • Category (Default)
  • Drop-Down
  • Expander

Category navigator mode (default)
Fig. 3.6 Category (default) Navigator mode

Category Sidebar - A sidebar to allow the selection of view categories.

Drop-Down navigator mode
Fig. 3.7 Drop-Down navigator mode

Drop-down Sidebar - Selection of categories and views from drop-down lists.

Expander navigator mode (default)
Fig. 3.8 Expander navigator mode

Expander Sidebar - Selection of views from lists with expanders.


In the Plugin Manager, Navigator modes are called Sidebar plugins, but this is inconsistent, because the View->Sidebar menu item removes the right-hand filter/gramplet sidebar, not the left-hand category sidebar.

Switching Categories

Gramps comes with number of different categories as standard. The built-in categories are described in categories. You can download addon 'Gramps View's via the Preferences menu. If the view is a new or updated view for an existing category, then the view is added to that category. However, if the view is a view for a new category, then the new category is added to the navigator.

The way you change the currently displayed category depends on the navigator mode. Normally (for most navigator modes) you can select the category you want by clicking one of the navigator icons.

Alternatively you can use the keyboard shortcuts CTRL+N and CTRL+P go to the next or previous category respectively or use keyboard shortcuts CTRL+Alt+<number> (Only available for the first 10 categories eg Repositories/Media/Notes miss out.) If you have hidden the Navigator this will be the only way to change categories (unless you turn the navigator on again).

Switching Views

A category can contain different ways of presenting the data, called a View. If there are several views, you can switch between the views. The way you change between the views depends on the viewing mode. In some viewing modes, there is an icon button on the toolbar to switch to a different view. You can also switch via the menu View, or the keybindings by pressing CTRL+Alt+<number>, where <number> is the view you want in this category.


Fig. 3.9 Filter Controls Displayed

Genealogical databases can contain information on many people, families, places, and objects. It is therefore possible for a View to contain a long list of data that is difficult to work with. Gramps gives you two different means for controlling this condition by allowing you to filter a list to a more manageable size.

These methods are Search and Filtering.

A search will search the text displayed in list, whereas filters display people whose data match the criteria of the filter.

Search is a simple but fast method of searching the columns displayed on the screen. When the sidebar is not displayed, the Search bar is displayed. Typing the characters into the Search bar and clicking the Find button will display only lines that match the text.

Alternatively, you can enable a filter in either the bottombar or the sidebar. When the filter sidebar is displayed, the Search bar is not displayed. The Filter allows you to interactively build a set of filter rules that can be applied to the display. The filter is applied based on the rules and the data, not on the screen display. Filters of the displayed category can also be constructed by clicking on the corresponding 'editor' button in the Edit menu.

Further details of how filters work is given in the Filters Chapter

Searching vs. Filtering

Searching only searches for exact text matches. If the date displayed is "Jan 1, 2000", a search of "1/1/2000" will fail, but a filter of "1/1/2000" will match.

When Gramps opens a Family Tree, no filtering is in effect. In People View, for example, all people in the Family Tree are listed by default.

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