FreeBMDFreeBMD Transcription Software and Add-ons


WinBMD has been written by Ian Brooke and offers a number of facilities to aid the transcribing of FreeBMD records on Windows machines, included WinBMD is recommended for new and experienced transcribers and is available from the WinBMD download page.

Problems should be reported to Contact.


MacBMD-X is a program for the Mac that aids transcribing FreeBMD records. This version was created by a team headed by Peter Adams and we are very grateful for the work that they have done to produce this version.

There is a user manual available to enable you to install and use MacBMD-X (the user manual requires a method to display PDF, e.g. Adobe Acrobat Reader). However, your Syndicate Coordinator may have a specific manual for your syndicate or special instructions for certain aspects of transcribing.

If transcribing years 1984 onward there are special instructions for transcribing the Reg field. Also you will get a warning when you upload that there is a quarter ("Mar") specified. Since transcriptions for 1984 onward are for the whole year the quarter is omitted. This warning can be safely ignored but if you prefer you can delete the "Mar" in the header to leave two commas at that spot.

The latest version of MacBMD-X (1.0.9) can be downloaded from here

Any problems with this version should be reported to Contact

Ben Hines wrote an earlier version (MacBMD) that only works on Operating System versions 10.6 (i.e. Snow Leopard) or earlier. This is available from here but is no longer supported.

Changing the district list in MacBMD-X

Unlike WinBMD, MacBMD-X does not have an option in its user interface to add districts to the district pick list. However, there is a way to do this although it involves editing the picklist file; only attempt this if you are confident of your computer skills.

To change the district picklist:

Important information about amending the district picklist


A volunteer has written a Linux transcription tool details of which are available here.

This tool is a replacement of the version for Linux written by Andrew Higgs which was used by a number of transcribers before becoming unavailable.


This program helps with the process of verifying completed WinBMD and SpeedBMD entries against the orginal scan. This Windows program is written by David Lang and is available (including previous versions) from here.

IrfanView Image Viewer

A very easy to use and useful image viewer is available free from any one of these sites. If one is not available or slow to access at least one of the others should be available.

Lotus Approach

Graham Cannon has kindly provided Lotus Approach Import Templates for FreeBMD datasets. They are in the form of a self-extracting zip file, which can be found here. The file contains a README.TXT and the templates.

N.B. whilst the author has taken care to avoid viruses and other problems with this file, you run it at your own risk. Please let us know of any problems.

District and Surname List

Bob Phillips has kindly produced a couple of files to help FreeBMD transcribers. They are a surname list and a district list sorted by volume.

N.B. These can be used as an assistance to transcribing but transcribers should not use the list as a means of guessing and modifying the transcription. It is important to transcribe what you see, not what you think might have been intended. These files may be downloaded here.


SpeedBMD is obsolescent and is not recommended for transcribing. The following information is included for historical purposes.

SpeedBMD runs under DOS and was designed to help FreeBMD transcribers increase their transcription rate and improve their accuracy. A performance  improvement of 30-50% over other spreadsheet methods  was claimed, depending of course on the quality of the source data being deciphered.

SpeedBMD was developed by Peter Cox and tested by members of the NZ syndicate, especially Chris Lloyd who also created the pre-1852 District file.

Peter is most grateful for the sterling efforts of Barrie Archer, Nick Tatham, Peter Watts, Stephen Carter and Stephen Cope in testing the new features of version 1.10 and for coming up with lots of good ideas for improvements.

Peter is also very grateful to Barry D, John Slann, Kenneth Hyde, Mary Muir, Tony McHugh and Steve Gaunt for their efforts in beta testing this release. They found a few remaining bugs and annoyances, which has helped to make this a stable and user-friendly release.

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