How to install the 2012 digital edition of “Evidence Explained” on your PC


When at the 2013 Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) earlier this month, I learned one of my classmates had lugged two weighty tomes to Salt Lake City: “Professional Genealogy” (aka “ProGen”) and “Evidence Explained” (EE). Both are essential reference works for the serious genealogist, but at 654-pages and 885-pages respectively, they’re not books you typically want to carry with you when traveling any great distance.

What was most surprising to me is this same person also brought along a laptop and an iPad. Although ProGen is not yet available in digital format, I questioned why she hadn’t simply purchased and installed the digital edition of Evidence Explained. (Yes, it will set you back another $29.95, but that is nothing when compared to luggage overage limits for air travel.) She responded by saying that although she had purchased the book in electronic format, she had been unable to figure out how to get the digital edition installed.

I had some trouble with that, too.

Although the Evidence Explained bookstore is quite clear that what you are getting when making your purchase is an Adobe DRM version of the eBook, somehow I simply glossed over the “DRM” portion of that description. I knew DRM means “digital rights management” and that it is a way that artists and authors, like Elizabeth Shown Mills, protect their work against piracy and copyright infringement. However, I had previously purchased the EE 2007 edition several years ago and recalled that version of the eBook was a regular PDF file format that opened in the free version of Adobe Reader. What tripped me up this time around is that when I attempted to download the EE 2012 edition, what I got was an *.acsm file, which I could not open using Adobe Reader. So, I did what anyone would have done: kept clicking. Nothing happened, or so I thought. In actuality, I exhausted my four allowable downloads of EE but was unaware of that at the time due to web page caching issues.

I researched *.acsm files and learned they are Adobe Content Server files designed to protect “PDF and reflowable EPUB eBooks for Adobe Digital Editions software and supported mobile devices”.1 Being unfamiliar with Adobe Digital Editions (ADE), I went to the Adobe Systems website at and learned that it, thankfully, was a free download. Ultimately, through the novel concept of actually reading the FAQ at Evidence Explained and the FAQ for ADE, I now understood the process to download and authorize the purchased file. Imagine my surprise when I learned I was out of downloads. Fortunately, the tech support rep readily understood my problem and re-enabled my download link.

I was finally successful installing EE on my laptop at home and on my iPad, which I took with me when I went to SLIG. When I learned of my classmate’s travails, I could definitely sympathize, and walked her through the process. It was a bit late to prevent her from bringing the hardback copy of EE with her to school, but perhaps these instructions will assist readers of this blog.

Here are the 5 steps to download, install and authorize the “Evidence Explained” eBook on a Windows PC or laptop:

1.  Purchase the 2012 digital edition of Evidence Explained at the website’s book store by navigating to You will need to set up an account at the book store to complete your purchase.

Do *NOT* attempt to download the eBook just yet! If you do, you will get an URLLink.acsm file. This is essentially a license file that you cannot do anything with initially without ADE installed. It is not the eBook.

urllink.acsm file

2. Set up a free Adobe ID account at

Setup Adobe ID

Don't have an Adobe ID?

Fill in required information

3. Download the free Adobe Digital Editions software from the website: This is the software that will allow you to open DRM-protected PDF files.

ADE downloads available for Windows and Mac

ADE should be downloaded and installed to a Windows or Mac computer, not to a smartphone or tablet.

4. Once installed, authorize your copy of ADE with the Adobe ID you created in Step 2 by going to Help > Authorize Computer.

Help>Authorize Computer

Input the e-mail address and password you set up in Step 2, and then click Authorize.

ADE authorization

ADE authorization success

5. Go back the EE bookstore, and download your “Evidence Explained” eBook file.

EE 2012 download

Your eBook will open in Adobe Digital Editions!

Evidence Explained Second Edition, 2012 (Digital Edition)Evidence Explained (Second Edition) by Elizabeth Shown Mills, as seen in the Adobe Digital Editions software.

Not only does having the digital edition of “Evidence Explained” save room and weight in my backpack when on the road, but being able to keyword search for terms is a fantastic bonus. I especially like viewing it on my iPad, but those directions will have to wait until another day.

Sources: : accessed 31 Jan 2013.

Post last updated 03 Feb 2013

From iPhone or iPad to Evernote

Evernote App
The Evernote App

If Santa brought you a shiny new iPhone or iPad for Christmas and you’re wondering which app to download first for genealogy, might I suggest Evernote?

Evernote is often described as a digital note-taking application, but it is so much more than that. Think of it as a digital information management system.

“Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere.”                                                                                — Evernote Product Description

Although not created specifically for genealogists, its rich feature set lends itself well to a genealogist’s research and writing process. In fact, in the March 2012 issue of the Association of Professional Genealogists’ Quarterly, the Evernote app was called a “must-have app for genealogical professionals“. I cannot recommend it enough; it truly is the one app that I use daily in both my personal and professional life.

When doing on-site research, for example, I like to use the camera on my iPhone to take photos of the title pages of books and microfilm. I then upload those images to Evernote for later use in developing source citations. Also, it is often quicker to snap a photo of a microfilmed image when sitting at the microfilm reader than removing the roll and taking it to a separate scanner to create a digital image and save to USB stick. Storing these images in Evernote, along with text, clipped web pages, and voice notes, I can access much of my genealogical research in one spot.

If you are at all intrigued by the possible uses of Evernote, I encourage you to sign up for a free account and download the Evernote app to your Apple smartphone or tablet from the iTunes app store.

To get an image from an iPhone or iPad into Evernote, follow these simple steps.

  1. With Evernote open, click the plus button to add a new note.
  2. Click the photo icon to go to your Camera Roll (if using a pre-existing photo). Alternately, to snap a photo and attach it to a note, click the camera icon instead.
  3. Tap the image you want to save to Evernote. (Note the paperclip with the number next to it. That’s the number of photos that have been attached to the note.)
  4. Tap Done.
  5. Sync up.

While the above directions are specific to the iPhone/iPad, there are Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone versions of the app available, as well as desktop versions of the software and a cloud-based version of the software. The versions I have used have each been fairly intuitive to use despite subtle differences.

One potential “gotcha” is the size of digital images created with a smartphone and the upload limits with a free account. You get 60 MB of space with a free account per month. If you find you need more space you can upload up to 1 GB per month with a premium subscription ($5.00/month or $45.00/year). Check out the details at

Census image from iPad camera roll attached to a note in EvernoteDigital 1860 census image photographed with an iPad and added to a note in Evernote.

iPhone image added to Evernote

Image of microfilmed Virginia tax roll, photographed with an iPhone and added to a new note in Evernote.