Ancestral Quest FAQs :: Database File Formats

Frequently Asked Questions

Database File Formats

The information that you place into Ancestral Quest is stored in a computer file called a database.

AQ program iconThe default database format used by AQ is a file with the extension of .aq. If you use the Collaboration feature, then your database is stored in a file with the extension of .ac.

PAF program iconFor those who use or have used the Personal Ancestral File program, your database is a file with the extension of .paf. Ancestral Quest has the ability to edit those database files directly, so you can easily switch between PAF and AQ and see the same data in both programs. However, there are limitations on using a .paf database file in AQ.

What are the limitations on using a .paf database file within Ancestral Quest?

When you edit a PAF database file within Ancestral Quest, the following commands and/or features will be unavailable:

  • Within the Add/Edit Individual dialog box, you cannot choose a different Birth Rite; the only avilable option is Christening. You can, however, add a different birth rite as an Other Event.
  • You are limited the option of using Quick Entry (Simple); the Quick Entry (Advanced) feature is not available.
  • Bookmarks are not available
  • In the Edit menu, the following are disabled:
    • Quick Entry Place List
    • Replace Names/Dates/Places
  • In the Tools menu, the following are disabled:
    • Color Coding
    • Tags
    • Convert Names to Mixed Case
    • Convert Place Abbreviations
    • Change Log

How do I convert a PAF database over to an AQ database format?

To convert from a .paf database to the .aq database format, follow these steps:

  1. Have the desired PAF database opened up within Ancestral Quest.
  2. Up on the menu bar, click on File, then select Database Converter.
  3. In the window that appears, notice that the dot will appear next to Ancestral Quest, indicating the type of database to which you are converting.
  4. Click to select the checkbox labeled Preserve old RIN Numbers if you want to keep the RINS the same in the new AQ database as in the PAF file from which you are converting.
  5. Click the Continue button.
  6. The Save As dialog box appears. Here, you can choose the location for the new file and give the file a filename. It will use the same filename as the PAF file by default, and you can keep that option. Or, if you wish, you can change the file name to something completely different (As an example, if your PAF database is Smith.paf, the default new name for the AQ database will be You could change that name to something else, however, if desired). Once you have the proper location and file name, click the Convert button to continue.

The database will then be copied to the new AQ format. The original PAF database file will remain untouched. A window appears to state that the conversion is complete. This window also may instruct you on what to do to correct any Custom Events sentences. Click OK when you are done with that window.

Note: We need to explain a little about something going on after you convert the file.

  1. You had the PAF database open in AQ.
  2. You then converted the PAF database to an AQ database format.
  3. The newly created .aq database opened up, in front of the .paf database, so there are now two copies of AQ running, one with each version of the same database.
  4. Look down at the Windows Taskbar (along the bottom edge of your screen). You should see at least one button for AQ (if you do see just one button for AQ, point to it with your mouse). There is one button/thumbnail of AQ with the .paf file, then another button/thumbnail for AQ with the .aq file.
  5. Click on the first button/thumbnail to view the .paf file.
  6. To verify that you are viewing the .paf file, down on the AQ Status Bar, at the bottom of this AQ program window, check the filename. It should end with .paf.
  7. Exit out of this Ancestral Quest window (click the X on the red button in the upper-right corner of this AQ window).
  8. You should now be in the AQ program window containing the .aq database.
  9. Now, when you exit out of AQ, since the .aq database was the last one closed, it should automatically reopen the next time you run Ancestral Quest, directly.

You can now delete the PAF database file, if desired. Note that if you keep both versions of the database, they are completely different copies of that file. If you go into PAF, you will be editing the original PAF database, and not the new AQ database. Likewise, if you go into the AQ file in Ancestral Quest, you will be editing the new AQ database, and not the original PAF database.