GEDCOM is an acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication. It is a generic database format designed to let you exchange genealogical data between different genealogy software programs. GEDCOM was developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an aid to genealogical research.
A GEDCOM file contains genealogical information about individuals, and meta data linking these records together. Most genealogy software supports importing from and/or exporting to GEDCOM format.
GEDCOM is a standard, not a program. As such, genealogy programs that are going to use the same data have to be written by the programmers to handle GEDCOM files. and both programs have to support GEDCOM. The instructions for creating or reading GEDCOM files will vary from one program to another.
According to Cyndi Howells of Cyndi's List, here is how you create a GEDCOM: "In most programs, go to "File, Export to GEDCOM" and create a new file with a ".ged" file extension after the name."
Cyndi also says "To read another person's GEDCOM file (in most programs), go to "File, Import from GEDCOM" and create a new database file that can be opened in your genealogy software program. This will not merge with your existing database file unless you indicate that you wish for the two files to be merged."
[from Cyndilist Gedcom Page]
GEDCOM files can easily be shared with others via e-mail attachment or on a disk.
You can create a GEDCOM file using the free genealogical software at FamilySearch.
Get a GEDCOM! start sharing your family history research!