Frequently Asked Questions

These are (as the name suggests) questions that are frequently asked (and some not so frequently). For each, a straightforward answer is given. If the answer solves the problem for you, that's great. If not, or if your problem and solution isn't here, contact MatterWare, and explain you problem, and what you've done thus far. If your problem is described here, but the answer here isn't the solution you need, let us know, and we'll make this document better.


Q. I don't have Microsoft Access. Can I still use Family Matters?

A. Yes. The file to download is It contains everything in Access 97 you will need to run Family Matters.

Q. I already have Microsoft Access. Do I need to install it again?

A. No. If you have Access 97, you should download and install If it's Access 2000 or later you have, download and install

Q. I already have Microsoft Access, and I know my way around my computer. Instead of installing, can I just copy the files onto my computer, and make a shortcut to start Family Matters?

A. Probably not. Windows Vista, 7, and 8 contain a mechanism to prevent user modification of folders and files in the Program Files directory structure.  Though it can appear that the files have been successfully copied, Window can actually place them in another area called Virtual Store.

Q. What should the shortcut that starts Family Matter look like?

A. The shortcut starts your msaccess.exe, and instructs it to open famat97.mde. Your shortcut should look something like this: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office\msaccess.exe" /wrkgrp "C:\Program Files\Family Matters 97\fmuser.mdw" /excl /runtime "C:\Program Files\Family Matters 97\Famat97.mde". Also, “Start in” should specify "C:\Program Files\Family Matters 97." Some or all the "Program Files" may instead be Program Files(x86)" depending on your Office and/or Windows being 64-bit or 32-bit.

Q. I've downloaded and installed Family Matters, and I get the an error message that Famat97.mde is an unrecognized database format. What should I do?

A. It sounds like you already have Microsoft Access 2000 (or later) installed on your computer, and you've installed the Access 97 version of Family Matters. Download from MatterWare's download page. Unzip it, and you will find a Famat97.mde compatible with Access 20XX. Replace the offending famat97.mde file with this new one.

Q. I recently upgraded my MS Office to Access 2000 (or later) and now I get a message that Access can not convert the database file Famat97.mde.

A. Download from MatterWare's download page. Unzip and install it.

Q. I have Microsoft Access 2003, and I get a "Security Warning" message when I start Family Matters that says "This file may not be safe if it contains code that was intended to harm your computer."

A. Access 2003 will give this message when opening any Access program file created with an earlier version of Access without a signed digital certificate. Just click OK, and proceed. The Family Matters program file is famat97.mde. If you are not comfortable, you can scan it with your anti-virus software.

Q. I keep getting this same error when I am trying to do a lot of things in Family Matters. Compact database, GEDCOM export, relationship calculator, etc. The error message says: 3052=File sharing lock count exceeded. Increase MaxLocksPerFile registry entry. What can I do to fix it?

A. Microsoft says to set the Registry Key to MaxLocksPerFile to increase the maximum number of locks per file. The default value is 9,500. Set it to a value high enough that the error no longer occurs. 15,000 or 20,000 should be plenty, depending on the size of your database. Make it greater than the number of persons in your database. (Note: This method changes the Windows registry setting for all applications that use the Microsoft Jet database engine version 4.0. Caution: Exercise care. The Registry controls many things in your computer.) 

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. Type regedit, and then click OK.
  3. In Registry Editor, locate the registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Jet\4.0\Engines\Jet 4.0
  4. In the right pane of Registry Editor, double click MaxLocksPerFile.
  5. On the Edit DWORD Value dialog box, click Decimal.
  6. Modify the value of the Value data box as required, and then click OK.

Q. I've just installed Family Matters. When I try to start it, I get "StartupStuff.0000" and "429 = ActiveX component can't create object."

A. Your Data Access Objects library may not be properly registered on your computer. First, locate DAO350.DLL on your computer. Then, type: regsvr32 followed by the path to your DAO file, surrounded by quotation marks. For example, to register the DAO 3.5 library, try the following command from RUN on the START menu:
regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\DAO\DAO350.DLL"
Then reboot your computer, and try starting Family Matters again.

Q. Some (or all) of my JPG picture images don't display on the Picture View. It looks like it loads, but nothing is displayed.

A. Some old scanning software has been known to create improper JPG files. While other viewing programs may accept them, the Microsoft Access graphics converters do not. If this is the case, it's likely that the scanner's driver has since been updated with a new release. First, ensure that you have the newest release for your scanner. Then, if possible, rescan the picture. Alternatively, using your photo editing software, try saving the picture in an uncompressed format, like (for instance) the TIFF format. Exit your photo editing software. Restart it, open the TIFF file, and re-save it as a JPG file.

Q. I'm using Vista, and I updated my Family Matters version by copying the new version into C:\Program Files\Family Matters 97\ but when I start FM from my desktop shortcut, I still get the old version. What's wrong?

A. In Vista, you must first save anything to either your desktop or one of your personal user folders, then you can move it to inside the Program Files folder location. It is part of Vista's security to prevent anything from getting at your system files easily. It is called Virtualization.


Q. I'm a past user of Family Matters, released prior to Family Matters 97. Can I upgrade? What's the cost?

A. Yes, you can upgrade, and there is no cost to do it if you download the files. You must be running Windows 95 or later. If the version of Family Matters you are running is 3.20 or newer, Family Matters will convert your existing database files for you the first time you open them. If older than 3.20, MatterWare will convert them for you.

Q. I've entered the registration information into the Registration dialog, but it still shows me as not registered. What's wrong?

A. It's important that you enter all of your Name and Location, as well as the User ID and Key Code. For instance, you may have abbreviated your state name when it is not abbreviated in the Location data provided with your registration. 

Q. When I am in the Family Group View, and I click on the down arrow to select a family name in the left most down arrow box, the first records are "0 &".  Nothing is in the record. Where did these come from? How do I eliminate these records?

A. You have inadvertently created families with neither a Primary nor a Spouse. Open them (one by one) on the Group View, right-click, and choose Delete Family.

Q. How do I handle the situation where a person has more than one spouse, and they've both produced children? I can't find how to add an additional spouse in the Person or Group View.

A. Right-click on the person you want to add a new spouse for, and choose Create Family. You will then see a new Group Form, with that person as the primary. Add the other spouse, and the children. Your person will then have two families, two spouses, and two sets of children. 

Q. My sister and I are twins, and hence have the same birth date. How can I set the order in which we will be shown?

A. The program orders children by birth date, and then alphabetically by given name. To force a different order, use sibling numbers for some or all of the children of that family. 

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