Gramps 4.2 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:

Window Title Bar

  • Window Title Bar shows the name of selected Family Tree, 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

With 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 the 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.

Bottom bar and Sidebar

  • Bottom bar: The bottom bar is located below the display area.
  • Sidebar: The sidebar is located to the right of the display area.

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

The Sidebar and Bottom bar can be individually hidden or revealed by options in the menu View or the relevant keybinding.

If the Sidebar is not displayed, then the Search bar is displayed instead.

Fig. 3.2 People Category View - showing Search Bar after Sidebar has been hidden

Switching Navigator modes

Fig. 3.3 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. 3.4 Category (default) Navigator mode

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

Drop-Down navigator mode
Fig. 3.5 Drop-Down navigator mode

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

Expander navigator mode (default)
Fig. 3.6 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 several different categories as standard. The built-in categories are described in categories. You can download addon 'Gramps Views 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. 3.7 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 a 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 are 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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