Gramps 4.2 Wiki Manual - Settings

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This section deals with various settings you can manage within Gramps.


Fig. 13.1 The tabs on the top of Preferences

Most of the settings in Gramps are configured in the Preferences dialog. To invoke it, select the menu Edit ->Preferences....

The tabs on the top display the available option categories.


Fig. 13.2 General Preferences

This tab contains preferences relevant to the general operation of the program. Options are:

  • Use alternate Font handler for GUI and Reports: This checkbox option affects the appearance of Unicode characters when those characters are not part of the font in use. The standard Windows font handler uses substitute fonts when characters are not available. For some users, the alternate font handler does a better job of substituting the fonts. This option only appears on and effects Windows users. If you have characters on your screen or report that display incorrectly (typically look like a little box with numbers in it), try selecting this setting. You must restart Gramps for this setting to take effect.
  • Add default source on GEDCOM import: This checkbox option affects the importing of GEDCOM data. If this is set, each item that is imported will contain a source reference to the imported file.

Note - Adding a default source can significantly slow down the importing of your GEDCOM data.

  • Add tag on import: Checkbox (Default: Imported %Y/%m/%d %H:%M:%S )
  • Enable spelling checker: This checkbox option controls the enabling and disabling of the spelling checker for notes. The gtkspell package must be loaded for this to have an effect.
  • Display Tip of the Day: This checkbox option controls the enabling and disabling of the Tip of the Day dialog at startup.
  • Remember last view displayed: This checkbox option controls the enabling and disabling of the the display of the last view. Enabling will bring you to the view where you stopped the program the last time.
  • Max Generations for Relationships: You can enter the number of generations used to determine relationships. The default value is 15.
  • Base path for relative media paths: Here you can fill in a base path for the media objects. Selecting the Directory button gives you a Select media directory editor where you can fill in the required path.
  • Check for updates: Select the frequency that Gramps checks for updates to Addons. Default: Never
  • What to check: Default: New addons only
  • Where to check: Default:
  • Do not ask about previously notified addons: Checkbox selected by default
  • Check now: Button to force a check for Addons, if Addons are available you will then be presented the Available Gramps Updates for Addons window where you choose and install them from.

Available Gramps Updates for Addons
"Available Gramps Updates for Addons" window showing example listing output for Gramps 4.2

The Available Gramps Updates for Addons window you will be shown a list broken down by Type that you can view by selecting the "Select" column expand out each "Type".

  • You can then select the check box of those Addons you want to install.
  • Then select the Install Selected Addons button to download those Addons from the Internet.
  • Once downloaded from the Done downloading and installing addons dialog select the Close button
  • From the Preferences dialog select Close button.
  • To use the Addons you need to Family Trees>Quit and restart Gramps.

Tip of the Day dialog

Fig. 13.3 Tip of the Day dialog

When enabled in Edit > Preferences General tab the Tip of the Day dialog shows helpful hints.

The following options are available:

  • Display on startup (check box checked by default - once enabled) - uncheck to stop further tips appearing.
  • Forward - Advance to the next tip.
  • Close - exit for this session until the Gramps program is restarted.

Family Tree

Fig. 13.4 Family Tree Preferences

This tab contains preferences relevant to the Family Tree Database path.

  • Family Tree Database path: The default path where the Databases are stored is home directory/.gramps/grampsdb. Unless you absolutely want to change this, stay with the default path. This path will be located in the relevant Operating Systems User Directory.
  • Automatically load last family tree: This checkbox option controls the enabling and disabling of the loading on start up of the last used database.


Fig. 13.5 Display Preferences

This tab contains preferences relevant to the display of data and names. Options are:

  • Name format: This option controls the display of names. In Gramps there are two type of name display formats: the predefined formats, and the user defined custom formats. Several different predefined name formats are available: Given - Prefix Patronymic, Suffix Given - Prefix Surname, Given Patronymic Suffix etc.
    • Clicking on the right hand side Edit... button will bring up a Display Name Editor window where the available list of options is shown. The format is given as well as an example. When predefined formats are not suitable one can define one's own format. You can use the Add button to add a Name format to the list. Clicking once will give you a SURNAME,Given Suffix(call) format and as example : SMITH, Edwin Jose Sr (Ed). If you added new name formats to the list the Remove and Edit buttons become available to change the name format list.
      • Consider single pa/matronymic as surname: Checkbox unselected by default. If selected enables Gramps to consider patronymic and matronymic names as surnames.

Besides the system wide setting Gramps allows deciding the name display format individually for every single name via the Display Name Editor dialog

  • Date format: This option controls the display of dates. Several different formats are available, which may be dependent on your locale. Default: YYYY-MM-DD (ISO)
  • Age display precision(requires restart): Years(default)
  • Calendar on reports: Gregorian(default). This option controls the display of calendar on reports, tools, gramplets, views. Several different calendars are available (see Date Edition). Two dates with two different calendars will not properly display timeline or period, (e.g. Using the Gregorian calendar as the default displayed calendar, users will have a better coherency for displaying dates on period).
  • Surname Guessing: This option affects the initial family name of a child when he/she is added to the database. The default Father's surname will use the family name of the father. Selecting None means that no surname guessing will be attempted. Selecting Combination of mother's and father's surname will use the father's name followed by the mother's name. Finally, Icelandic style will use the father's given name followed by the "sson" suffix (e.g. the son of Edwin will be guessed as Edwinsson).

The Surname Guessing: option only affects the initial family name guessed by Gramps when the Edit Person dialog is launched. You can modify that name the way you see fit. Set this option to the value that you will most frequently use, as it will save you a lot of typing.

  • Default family relationship:
    • Unknown(default)
    • Married
    • Unmarried
    • Civil Union
  • Height multiple surname box(pixels): Default:150
  • Status bar: This option controls the information displayed in the status bar. This can be either the Active person's name and ID(default) or Relationship to home person.
  • Show text in sidebar buttons(requires restart) checked (default) This checkbox controls whether or not a text description is displayed next to the icon in the Navigator sidebar. This option takes effect after the program has been restarted.
  • Show close button in gramplet bar tabs unchecked(default)

Display Name Editor


Custom name display formats are stored in the Family Trees, thus before loading any Family Tree the Custom format details expander is disabled.

Fig. 13.6 Display Name Editor

The following keywords are replaced with the appropriate name parts:

  • Given - given name (first name)
  • Title - title (Dr., Mrs.)
  • Call - call name
  • Initials - first letters of Given
  • Primary, Primary[pre] or [sur] or [con]- full primary surname, prefix, surname only, connector
  • Patronymic, or [pre] or [sur] or [con] - full pa/matronymic surname, prefix, surname only, connector
  • Familynick - family nick name
  • Rest - non primary surnames
  • Rawsurnames- surnames (no prefixes and connectors)
  • Surname - surnames (with prefix and connectors)
  • Suffix - suffix (Jr., Sr.)
  • Nickname - nick name
  • Common - nick name, otherwise first of Given
  • Prefix - all prefixes (von, de)
  • Notpatronymic- all surnames, except pa/matronymic & primary

UPPERCASE versions of these keywords forces uppercase to be displayed. Extra parentheses, commas are removed. Other text appears literally.

Example: 'Dr. Edwin Jose von der Smith and Weston Wilson Sr ("Ed") - Underhills'
Edwin Jose is given name, von der is the prefix, Smith and Weston surnames,
and a connector, Wilson patronymic surname, Dr. title, Sr suffix, Ed nick name,
Underhills family nick name, Jose callname.


New Feature - introduced in Gramps 4.1

Hierarchical Place Structure

Fig. 13.7 Menu: Edit > Preferences... - Places tab

This tab contains preferences relevant to how Places should be shown.

  • Enable automatic place title generation (checkbox checked by default)
  • Suppress comma after house number (checkbox unchecked by default) - For this option to work, the street must have the Type Street and house number must have the Type Number.
  • Reverse display order (checkbox unchecked by default)
  • Drop down list Restrict with the following options:
    • Full place name (Default)
    • -> Hamelet/VillageTown/City
    • Hamlet/VillageTown/City ->
  • Language: (Empty by Default)

See also:


Fig. 13.8 Text Preferences

This tab contains preferences relevant to how missing and private names and records should be shown.

  • Missing surname: in the input field you can determine how a missing surname should be displayed. Default value is [Missing Surname]. You can change this to [--] or whatever is most convenient for you.
  • Missing given name in the input field you can determine how a missing given name should be displayed. Default value is [Missing Given Name]. You can change this to whatever you want.
  • Missing record: Default: [Missing Record]
  • Private surname: Default: [Living]
  • Private given name: Default: [Living]
  • Private record: Default: [Private Record]

ID Formats

ID Prefixes

The ID prefixes use formatting conventions common for C, Python, and other programming languages. For example, the %04d expands to an integer, prepended with zeros to have the total width of four digits. If you would like IDs to be 1, 2, 3, etc., simply set the formatting parameter to %d, the 'd' specifies Decimal Integer, outputting the number in base 10.

See: Python (String) Format Specification Mini-Language

Fig. 13.9 ID Formats Preferences

This tab contains preferences relevant to the automatic generation of Gramps IDs.

  • Person: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Person. Default value: I%04d
  • Family: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Family. Default value: F%04d
  • Place: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Place. Default value: P%04d
  • Source: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Source. Default value: S%04d
  • Citation: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Citation. Default value: C%04d
  • Media Object: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Media Object. Default value: O%04d
  • Event: Provides the template for generating IDs for an Event. Default value: E%04d
  • Repository: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Repository. Default value: R%04d
  • Note: Provides the template for generating IDs for a Note. Default value: N%04d

You can use the Reorder Gramps ID tool to change the format.


Fig. 13.10 Dates Preferences
  • Date about range: Default: 50
  • Date after range: Default: 50
  • Date before range: Default: 50
  • Maximum age probably alive: Default: 110
  • Maximum sibling age difference: Default: 20
  • Minimum years between generations: Default: 13
  • Average years between generations: Default: 20
  • Markup for invalid date format: Default: <b>%s</b>
    • Convenience markups are:
      • <b>Bold</b> (Default)
      • <big>Makes font relatively larger</big>
      • <i>Italic</i>
      • <s>Strikethrough</s>
      • <sub>Subscript</sub>
      • <sup>Superscript</sup>
      • <small>Makes font relatively smaller</small>
      • <tt>Monospace font</tt>
      • <u>Underline</u>
        • For example: <u><b>%s</b></u> will display Underlined bold date.


Fig. 13.11 Researcher Preferences

Allows you to Enter your information so people can contact you when you distribute your Family Tree in the corresponding text entry fields. Although Gramps requests information about you, this information is used only so that Gramps can create valid GEDCOM output files. A valid GEDCOM file requires information about the file's creator. If you choose, you may leave the information empty, however none of your exported GEDCOM files will be valid.

The available text entry fields are (by default all fields are blank):

  • Name:
  • Address:
  • Locality:
  • City:
  • State/County:
  • Country:
  • ZIP/Postal Code:
  • Phone:
  • Email:

The information entered under this preference acts as default value for family tree specific values that can be adjusted with the Edit Database Owner Information tool.


Fig. 13.12 Warning Preferences

This tab controls the display of warning dialogs, allowing the re-enabling of dialogs that have been disabled.

  • Suppress warning when adding parents to a child. Checkbox checked by Default (See Dialog)
  • Suppress warning when cancelling with changed data. Checkbox unchecked by Default (See Dialog)
  • Suppress warning about missing researcher when exporting to GEDCOM. Checkbox unchecked by Default (See Dialog)
  • Show plugin status dialog on plugin load error. Checkbox unchecked by Default (See Dialog)

See the Error and Warning Reference page for examples.


Fig. 13.13 Color Preferences

This tab allows you to Set the colors used for boxes in the graphical views

Pick a Color selector

Fig. 13.14 Pick a Color selector

Select a color from the color pallet area, or select the Custom + button to create your own color either via direct 'color Hex color code'; the slider or mouse click.

Other settings

Besides Preferences dialog, there are other settings available in Gramps. For various reasons they have been made more readily accessible, as listed below.

Column Editor

Column Editor

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

Fig. 13.15 Column Editor Dialog

The columns of the list views may be added, removed, or reordered in a Column Editor dialog. To use the Column Editor dialog, choose via the menu View ->Configure View... or click on toolbar Configure View... button. Only checked columns will be shown in the view. 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 View.

By default, the View List, displays several columns of information about the respective category. You can add or remove columns to and from the display

The default sort key for the view [always ascending] is the left-most field [i.e. at the top in the Column Editor], so changing which field is in that position affects default sorting.

Column Editor

The Column Editor is available and works in the same way for all list views. Specifically, it is available for People View, Family View (children list). Sources View, Citations View, Places View, Media View, Repositories View and the Notes View.

Sorting columns

Fig. 13.16 Example of sorting "Birth Date" column in People Category - List View

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, or to change the default sorting of the view [though always ascending].

Setting Home person

To set the Home person, select the People Category and make the desired person active and then choose via the menu Edit ->Set Home Person.

Menu showing Set Home Person

The Home person is the default person who becomes active when one of the following occurs:

  • the Family tree database is opened
  • when the toolbar Home button is clicked
  • the Home menu item is selected from either the Go menu or the right-click context menu in selected views
  • the keybinding ALT+Home is used to return to the Home Person.

The toolbar Home button is available in the People Category, Relationships Category, and Pedigree Category.

Adjusting viewing controls

Whether the toolbar, the sidebar, or the filter (not available on Pedigree and Relationships Views) are displayed in the main window is adjusted through the View menu.

In the different views clicking the View menu will shows for boxes you can click:

  • Navigator
  • Toolbar
  • Sidebar
  • Bottombar
  • Full Screen F11

Additionally, depending on the view you are in, other options will be available on Configure.

  • Gramplets:
    • Set Columns to 1
    • Set Columns to 2
    • Set Columns to 3
  • Relationships:
    • Show Siblings
    • Show Details
  • Geography:
    • Time period
    • Layout

All other Views: the column editor.

Export View

Fig. 13.17 Export to ODS

On most Views, displayed data could be exported, choose via the menu Family Trees ->Export View....

Gramps will export data on screen according your choice: CSV or Open Document spreadsheet format.

The example shows an export to a Libreoffice Spreadsheet in the ODS format.

This is a powerful function (no limitations), like a report.

Modularity and plugins

See Plugin Manager and Third-Party Addons.

Customize report output formats

Fig. 13.18 Document Options - tab defaults for Text Reports example

What does it do? It allows you to change the fonts, font sizes, font color, background color of the text and alignment of paragraphs on the report.

For most report dialogs in the top part are options related that specific report and in the lower part you will see the Document Options section.

From the Style: drop down list you can choose an existing custom style. Or to make your own Style: select the Style Editor... button to show the Document Style dialog and then select the Add a new style button to show the Style editor dialog.

Document Styles dialog

Fig. 13.19 Document Styles dialog

The Document Styles dialog, list the default style and any custom styles for that report and allows you to edit or delete any custom styles you have created. Select the Add a new style button to show the Style editor dialog.

Style editor dialog

The Style editor dialog allow you to customize the document style specific to each report.

Change the Style sheet name: (New Styledefault) field to a unique name as it will appear in Document Options Style: drop down list.

Once changes for your custom style have been finalized select the OK button to save the changes or Cancel to exit.

Style editor dialog tabs

On the left hand side you will see the Style column that list the paragraph options specific to that report that you may modify. For example the Ahnentafel Report shows the style options for AHN-Entry, AHN-Generation and AHN-Title.

On the right hand side are three tabs associated with each style listed in the left hand column:

Fig. 13.20 Description options - (default styles for Ahnentafel Report)
  • Description : The description describes what each paragraph is all about. Here the style used for the AHN-Entry.

Font options
Fig. 13.21 Font Options
  • Font options : Here you can set the Type face Roman or Swiss, the Size of the font in pt., the Color of the font and some Options like Bold, Italic or Underline.

Paragraph options
Fig. 13.22 Paragraph Options
  • Paragraph options : Here you set the Alignment, the Background color, Indentation, Spacing and Borders of your style.


Here are some ways that you can customize Gramps.


See Preferences


Gramps has been translated into a number of languages. Usually Gramps automatically starts in your local language, as chosen for other applications, but sometimes this may not be right for you.


Describe for each main platform how the normal language is determined and how the user can choose a different language.


If you want to choose a locale 'variant' for sorting that is not the default variant, then you can start Gramps from the terminal (or console) with a different LC_COLLATE environment. For example, the default sorting (collation) variant for Swedish is "reformed", but you can instead choose "standard" by typing:

export LC_COLLATE="sv_SE.UTF-8@collation=standard"

Mac OS X

For Mac OS X see Advanced setup for details on how the language is normally chosen, and how to choose a special, non-default setting for the language, the sorting order or the format of such things as day and month names and number separators.

MS Windows

Add Windows OS Menu Item

To make Gramps work in your selected language (See table below for your language code), complete the following:

  • Using your mouse right button click on the "GrampsAIOxx 4.x.x" icon on Desktop and from menu choose: Copy.
  • Right click anywhere on Desktop and from menu choose: Paste shortcut
  • New icon will be created with name: "GrampsAIOxx 4.x.x (2)"
  • Right click on that and from menu choose: Properties
  • A new window will open, click on first tab called General and change text from "GrampsAIOxx 4.x.x (2)" to something more descriptive like: "GrampsAIO Danish"
    • Click on second tab called Shortcut, change text in first entry called Target from (note path will vary depending on Gramps version used):
      • "C:\Program Files(xxx)\GrampsAIOxx-4.x.x\bin\grampsw.exe" to:
      • %comspec% /c set LANG=da_DK.UTF-8 && start grampsw.exe"
  • Click OK and now when you click on that icon Gramps will start in Danish.

Change the windows LANG variables

Another option if you want Gramps to always load in say:French Canadian language, you can go to Windows > System Properties, and add the LANG variable in the user section of the environment variables dialog with the appropriate Value.

The value to add is:

Name: LANG
Value: fr_CA.UTF-8

Language codes

Select from the following table of languages Gramps has been translated into:

Language ISO code Example Notes
Dutch nl_BE.UTF-8
English (British) en_GB.UTF-8
Finnish fi-UTF-8
French Canadian fr_CA.UTF-8
Russian ru_RU.UTF-8
  • The language codes are two-letter lowercase ISO language codes (such as "da") as defined by ISO 639-1.
  • The country codes are two-letter uppercase ISO country codes (such as "BE") as defined by ISO 3166-1.

Advanced manipulation of settings

Beyond the settings in Preferences, you may also wish to explore the advanced settings. These are stored in a file called gramps.ini that can be found in your personal .gramps folder in your home or user directory.


The contents of this section is outside the scope of interest of a general user of Gramps. If you proceed with tweaking the options on the low level you may damage your Gramps installation. Be careful. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Fig. 13.23 The gramps.ini file

Gramps 4.2 uses INI keys stored in the file gramps.ini under .gramps (gramplets, keys) for managing user preferences.

The list has following sub-items:

  • behavior: typical Key names are: betawarn, enable-autobackup, use-tips...
  • export: export and import dirs
  • interface: a lot of keys regarding height and width of the different Views: e.g. event-height: 450, event-ref-height: 585, event-ref-width: 728, event-width: 712...
  • paths: keys related to recent imported files and dirs
  • preferences: keys related to preferences: all the common prefixes , todo -colors..
  • researcher: all information regarding the researcher

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