Gramps 4.0 Wiki Manual - Main Window

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Elements of Gramps main window.

Main Window

When you open a Family Tree database (either existing or new), the main Gramps window is displayed (Fig. 3.1):

Fig. 3.1 Gramps Main Window

The main Gramps window contains the following elements:


  • 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.


  • Toolbar: The toolbar is located right below the menubar. It gives you access to the most frequently used functions of Gramps. You can set options that control how it appears by going to the menu Edit ->Preferences . You can also hide the toolbar entirely by going to the 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

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.

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 the Sidebar allow gramplets to be displayed alongside a view. (Details to be provided, based e.g. on GEPS 019 and Gramps bar, with references to Filters, Filters and Sidebar and bottombar)

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.

The Navigator, Toolbar, Sidebar and Bottombar can be individually turned on or off by options in menu View. If the Sidebar is not displayed, then the Search bar is displayed instead.

Fig. 3.2 Gramps Main Window showing Search Bar

When something goes wrong

Sometimes something goes wrong, either because you have asked to do something that Gramps doesn't know how to do, or because something has happened that the developers of Gramps did not anticipate, or because there is a mistake in the coding of Gramps.

This section explains what to do when something unexpected happens.


An alert is a dialog that appears when Gramps needs to give you an important message about an error condition or warn you about potentially hazardous situations or consequences.

Examples are the alerts that appear if you try to open a Family Tree that was created by a different version of Gramps. tbd: add these examples, possibly others and explain what to do.

Fig. 3.3 Dialogue showing need to upgrade

This dialogue appears if you try to open a Family Tree created with a previous version of Gramps with a newer version of Gramps. If you still have the older version of Gramps available, then you should:

  • cancel this dialogue,
  • open the Family Tree with the previous version of Gramps,
  • export your family tree in Gramps XML database export format or Gramps package export format (see Export into Gramps formats),
  • open the Family Tree in the new version of Gramps and click 'Upgrade now' in this dialogue

Fig. 3.4 Dialogue showing cannot open database

As explained in the dialogue, the Family Tree was probably created with an old version of the Berkeley database program. This is not quite the same thing as an old version of the Gramps program, because the version of the Gramps program and the version of the Berkeley database are independent. However, the effect is somewhat the same. As suggested in the dialogue, if you have the old version of Gramps and its support software, then you should:

  • cancel this dialogue,
  • open the Family Tree with the previous version of Gramps,
  • export your family tree in Gramps XML database export format or Gramps package export format (see Export into Gramps formats),
  • start the new version of Gramps,
  • open the 'Manage Family Tree' dialogue,
  • click on new and create a new Family Tree,
  • load the new Family Tree
  • Import the Gramps XML or Gramps package.

Alternatively, it may be possible to use the recovery tools. See 'obtain the bsddb recovery tools' under Recover corrupted family tree

Fig. 3.5 Dialogue showing database corruption

This dialogue appears when a problem is detected with the underlying database that supports Family Trees.

  • close the dialogue,
  • click on the Family Tree Manager,
  • select the Family Tree you were trying to open,
  • the 'Repair' button should be available; click on it,
  • once the Family Tree has been repaired it should be possible to open it in the normal way.

If this does not work, try recovering corrupted family trees


If Gramps detects a minor error, or wishes to notify you about an occurrence within the program, then Gramps may display a warning button, as shown below. This button is only displayed for 180 seconds, so if you see it you should immediately click on it if you want to see the messages.

Fig. 3.6 Gramps Main Window showing Warning button

If you click the warning button, then a dialogue box appears showing the last 20 messages received. More details

Fig. 3.7 Gramps Main Window showing Warning messages

Some of the warnings that may appear are described below:

  • "Date parser for ... not available, using default", "Date displayer for ... not available, using default", "WARNING: Setting locale failed... ": all these mean that the language that you are trying to use for running Gramps is not supported. See languages


More serious problems cause an error dialogue to appear which will describe the actions you should take. tbd. give example of the program error dialogue. Also explain what to do if Gramps suddenly quits, or if Gramps just won't start.

This page's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please help improve the Gramps Wiki as a useful resource by updating it.

Switching Views and Viewing Modes

This page's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. Please help improve the Gramps Wiki as a useful resource by updating it.
Fig. 3.8 Sidebar view mode

Gramps comes with number of different Categories as standard. New Categories may be made with plugins you download. There are two different Viewing Modes. You can tell at a glance which Viewing Mode you are in: If you see icons listed vertically in a sidebar at the left of the window, you are in the Sidebar Viewing Mode (see Fig 3.8).

When you are in the Sidebar Viewing Mode, you can select the Category you want by clicking one of the sidebar icons.

Or you can also use the keyboard shorts CTRL+P and CTRL+N go to previous or next category.

As mentioned, a category can contain different ways of presenting the data, called a View. If there are several views, you can switch between the views on the toolbar as each view will have an icon button. You can also switch via the menu View, or by pressing CTRL+<number>, where <number> is the view you want in this category.


Column Editor

Column Editor

The Column Editor is available in all Views and works the same way in each.

Fig. 3.9 Column Editor Dialog

By default, the View List, displays several columns of information about the repective category. You can add or remove columns to and from the display by calling up the Column Editor dialog from the menu View -> Configure View... or click on toolbar Configure View... button and then checking or unchecking the boxes listed. You can also change the position of a column in People View by clicking and dragging it to a new position in the Editor (drag and drop). Once you have made the changes you want, click OK to exit the Editor and see your changes in the People View.


Fig. 3.10 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. Typing the characters into the Search box and clicking the Find button will display only lines that match the text.

Alternatively, you can enable the Filter sidebar, which will be displayed on the right hand side of the display. When the filter sidebar is displayed, the Search bar is not displayed. The Filter side bar 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.

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 database, no filtering is in effect. In People View, for example, all people in the database are listed by default.

Sorting columns

Fig. 3.11 Sort Column

Clicking once sorts in ascending order, clicking again sorts in descending order. The Column Editor dialog can be used to add, remove and rearrange the displayed columns.

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