How to download your family tree from ancestry com

Can You Export a Family Tree From Ancestry?

Did you build your family tree on Ancestry? Do you want to know if you can export a family tree from Ancestry? If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, then you will find all of the information that you need in this post.

Yes, you can export your tree from Ancestry. Downloading your Ancestry family tree is very simple and straightforward.

This article will show you how to export your tree from Ancestry so you can store it on your computer, e-mail it to relatives, or upload it to another website or software.

What file format will my downloaded Ancestry tree have?

Your downloaded Ancestry tree will be in the format of a GEDCOM. This file format is the industry standard for family tree files and will be compatible with any major family tree website or software.

GEDCOM stands for “genealogical data communications”, for inquiring minds.

In addition, this type of family tree file (GEDCOM) has been in use for decades and will be used for the foreseeable future. It’s a good idea to have a copy of your tree for backup.

What will be included in my Ancestry GEDCOM file of my tree?

Your Ancestry tree GEDCOM file will include all of the biographical information that you have entered for the people in your tree. Because the GEDCOM file is text-only, it will not include photographs, documents, records, and other things that you may have attached to your Ancestry tree.

However, text references to sources are included in the GEDCOM file.

How to download family tree from Ancestry

The first thing you’ll need to do in order to download your tree is log in to your Ancestry account. You can click HERE to access the Ancestry login page, or you can access it the way you normally do.

Once you are logged in to your account, you will need to navigate to the tree that you’d like to download. Your family trees are all listed under the “Trees” tab at the top of your screen.

In the image below, you can see exactly where to click on the menu bar:

This image from the Ancestry site shows you exactly where to click to access your family tree to start the download process.

One you click on the “Tree” tab, you’ll see a drop-down list of all of the family trees that are connected to your Ancestry account. Click on the name of the tree that you would like to download.

The family tree that you selected will load, and you’ll see either the pedigree view or the family tree, depending on which view you were using last.

The next step is to access your family tree settings. For those of you who have done DNA tests, this is a completely different part of the site than your DNA test settings.

You’ll need to click on the little downward “carrot” that is right next to the name of your family tree. In the image below, you can see exactly where to click:

The image above is from my Ancestry family tree. I put the red arrow to show you exactly where to click to access the menu where you can find your tree settings.

After you’ve clicked on the downward carrot, you will see a menu where you can choose “Tree Settings”. It is the option with the “gear” icon next to it.

You are almost at the final step – don’t give up now!

Clicking on “Tree Settings” takes you to your Tree Settings and starts you on the “tree info” tab, which is right where you need to be to download your Ancestry tree.

On the right side of the screen (on desktop) towards the bottom, you will see a green button that says “Export Tree”. You might have to scroll down slightly to see the button.

Click the green “Export tree” button.

In the image below, you can see exactly where you need to click to download your Ancestry tree:

The red arrow points to the green button that you need to click to begin the download process for your Ancestry family tree.

Once you click the “Export Tree” button, Ancestry will begin exporting your tree into a GEDCOM file. If you have a very large tree, this could take a few minutes.

The Ancestry site will show you the percentage of progress that it has made towards creating your GEDCOM file, as shown in the image below:

Ancestry is creating a GEDCOM file of my family tree!

When the Ancestry site is finished creating a GEDCOM file of your family tree, a green button that says “Download your GEDCOM file” will appear:

My Ancestry family tree GEDCOM file is ready. I can click the green “Download GEDCOM file” button to start the download of the file

When you click the button, you will be given an option to save it to your computer or open it (if you have a family tree building software on your computer).

If you decide to save the tree, it should save to your “downloads” folder or wherever your downloaded files are usually saved.


I hope that this post has helped you understand whether it is possible to download a tree from Ancestry and exactly how to do it.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, I would love to hear from you in the discussion below.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Share the knowledge!


Download Your Ancestry Tree and Upload It Elsewhere for Added Benefit

Once you’ve created a tree at Ancestry, you can download or export that tree to upload it elsewhere, or for safekeeping at home.

Be aware that while the tree itself is downloaded, any documents you have attached through Ancestry are NOT downloaded along with the tree. To do that, you’ll need to sync your tree through RootsMagic or Family Tree Maker software on your home computer. That’s not the focus of this article.

This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to make a downloaded copy of your actual tree called a GEDCOM file. All vendors understand the GEDCOM file exchange format for family trees.

Uploading your tree elsewhere allows you to save time and enhances your experience at other vendors, such as Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, and GEDmatch – all three of whom utilize your DNA test in addition to your tree in order to provide you with advanced tools and enhanced results.

These three vendors all use and provide segment information, in addition to trees, and matching is free if you transfer a DNA file. Transferring a DNA file and downloading a tree are two separate things.

To use DNA plus trees, there are two steps and I’ll cover both. First, let’s look at the benefits and the differences between those three vendors so you know what to expect.

Features Summary

Here’s a quick and very basic summary of the features and functions of each of the three companies that accept both GEDCOM and DNA file uploads and provide tree+DNA combination features.

  FamilyTreeDNA MyHeritage GEDmatch
Upload DNA File Yes Yes Yes
Free Matching Yes Yes Yes
Advanced Features $19 one-time unlock $29 one-time unlock $10 monthly subscription for Tier 1
Upload GEDCOM file* Yes Yes** Yes
Features Using GEDCOM File Phased Family Matching Theories of Family Relativity, Smart Matches, searches Comparison with matches’ trees
Genealogy Records Subscription Available No Yes No
DNA Testing in House Yes Yes No, upload only
Unique Features Assigning matches maternally and paternally, Y and mtDNA tests, archives your DNA Theories of Family Relativity, genealogical records, photo enhancement Ability to view your matches’ matches, advanced DNA tools

*There may be GEDCOM file size restrictions at some vendors.

**MyHeritage restricts free trees to 250 individuals, but you can add a records subscription to be able to work with a larger tree. You can read more, here. You can try a free subscription, here. I believe you can upload any size GEDCOM file without a subscription, but advanced functions such as record matches are restricted.

Unlike at the other vendors who focus exclusively on DNA, MyHeritage provides the resources to build and add branches to your tree, hence the restriction on how much is provided for free.

Both MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA also do their own DNA testing, so you don’t need to test at Ancestry. I wrote about testing and transfer strategies, here.

Regardless of where you test, you can download your tree from Ancestry and upload it to other sites.

I initially started out with only my direct ancestors in my tree, but you’ll want to include their children, minimally, in order to assist the vendors with tree comparisons, assuring that a person in two different trees is actually the same person, not just someone with the same or a similar name.

Downloading Your Ancestry Tree

After signing on to Ancestry, you’ll see the following at the upper left:

Click on “Trees.”

You’ll see a list of all the trees you’ve created or that have been shared with you.

Click on the tree you want to download.

Next, you’ll see your tree displayed. Click on the down arrow to display options and click on “Tree Settings.”

You’ll see your tree settings, above. We’re focused ONLY on the area in the red box.

Downloading does NOT delete your tree. That is a different option.

Let’s look at a closeup of this section.

Do NOT Delete Your Tree

Delete means “throw away” permanently – you cannot retrieve the tree. Export means to make a copy, leaving the original intact on Ancestry.

Let’s look closer.

People see the warning at the bottom, in the Delete tree section and they don’t realize that’s NOT referring to Export Tree.

See those little red arrows, above? They’re all pointing to minuscule tiny grey dividing lines between the Hint Preferences Section, the Manage Your Tree export function and the Delete your tree function.

The warning pertains to deleting your tree, not “Export tree.”

If you accidentally click on “Delete your tree,” you do get a confirmation step, shown below.

If you want to export or copy your tree for use elsewhere, do NOT press delete.

Download/Export Your Tree

To download your tree, click on the green Export tree button.

Export means to download a COPY of your tree, leaving the original on Ancestry.

Next, you’ll receive an “in process” message while your GEDCOM file is being created.

After you click on “Export tree,” you’ll receive this message.

When finished, you’ll be able to click on “download tips” if you wish, then click on the green “Download your GEDCOM file.

Save this file on your computer.

Uploading Your GEDCOM Elsewhere

Next, it’s time to upload your GEDCOM file to our three vendors. Please note that if you have previously uploaded a GEDCOM file to these vendors, you can replace that GEDCOM file, but that’s not always in your best interest.

We’ll look at GEDCOM replacement strategies and ramifications in each vendor’s section.

You’ll need to have an account set up with each vendor first.

Uploading to Family Tree DNA

At FamilyTreeDNA, the way to set up an account is to either order a DNA test, here, or transfer your autosomal DNA file from either 23andMe, Ancestry, or MyHeritage.

Transferring your DNA to FamilyTreeDNA

Transfer instructions for DNA from or to Family Tree DNA are found in the article, Family Tree DNA Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files.

After you set up an account at Family Tree DNA, you can then upload your GEDCOM file.

Uploading Your GEDCOM File to FamilyTreeDNA

You can upload any GEDCOM file to FamilyTreeDNA.

Sign on to your account, then click on “myTREE” on the upper toolbar.

Click on “Tree Mgmt” at upper right.

Next, you’ll see the “GEDCOM UPLOAD” beneath.

You can only upload one tree to Family Tree DNA. When you upload a new GEDCOM file, your current tree is deleted at the beginning of the process.

FamilyTreeDNA GEDCOM Replacement Strategy

You can replace a GEDCOM file with a newer, better one at FamilyTreeDNA, however, doing so means that any people you match who you’ve linked to their profiles in your original tree will need to be relinked.

Phased Family Matching where your matches are bucketed to maternal, paternal or both sides are created based on matches to people you’ve attached to their proper places in your tree.

If you have few or no matches attached to their profiles in your tree, then relinking won’t be a problem. If, like me, you’re taking full advantage of the ability to connect matches on your tree in order for your matches to be assigned maternally or paternally, then replacing your GEDCOM file would constitute a significant investment of time relinking.

The best plan for FamilyTreeDNA is to upload a robust tree initially with lines extended to current so that you can attach testers easily to their proper place in the tree.

If you didn’t do this initially, you’ll need to add the line to the tester from your common ancestor as you identify matches with common ancestors.

Uploading to MyHeritage

At MyHeritage, you can begin by ordering a DNA test, here, or transferring a DNA file from another vendor, here. You can also sign up to try a free genealogy subscription, here. From any of these three links, you’ll be prompted to set up an account.

Transferring Your DNA to MyHeritage

Instructions for transferring your DNA to MyHeritage can be found in the article, MyHeritage Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download DNA Files.

Uploading your GEDCOM File to MyHeritage

You can upload a GEDCOM file from any source to MyHeritage. After signing in to your account, you’ll see “Family tree” in the top task bar.

Click on Family tree and you’ll see “Import GEDCOM.”

At MyHeritage you can have multiple GEDCOMs uploaded, but you’ll only be able to link your DNA test to your primary tree from which Theories of Family Relativity for you are generated.

MyHeritage GEDCOM Replacement Strategy

I have a full subscription to MyHeritage which allows an unlimited number in people of an unlimited number of trees. Smart Matches and other hints are generated for every person in every tree unless I disable that feature.

If I were to replace my primary GEDCOM file that is linked to my own DNA test, I would lose all of my Theories of Family Relativity which are only generated every few months. The next time Theories are run, I would receive new ones, but not before then.

Replacing an existing GEDCOM file at MyHeritage also means that you’ll lose links to any attached documents or photos that you’ve associated with that tree, additions of changed you’ve made, as well as Smart Matches to other people’s trees. You can, however, sync with MyHeritage’s own free desktop tree builder software.

Initially, a few years ago, I uploaded an ancestors-only tree to MyHeritage reaching back a few generations. Now I wish I had uploaded my entire GEDCOM file. I didn’t because I have unproven people and relationships in my computer file and I didn’t want to mislead anyone. However, Theories of Family Relativity uses descendants of your ancestors to connect across lines to other people. Having descendants of my ancestors in that tree wasn’t important at MyHeritage then, before that feature was introduced, but it is now.

Today, I’ve minimally added children and grandchildren of my ancestors, by hand. I use MyHeritage records and searches extensively, and I’d lose thousands of links if I replaced my primary GEDCOM file. Besides, when I review each person I add in the tree, it provides the opportunity of reviewing their information for accuracy and searching for new documents. I’ve discovered amazing things by using this one-at-a-time method for adding my ancestors’ children and descendants – including new information that led to a new ancestor just last week.

Uploading to GEDMatch

You’ll begin by setting up a free account at GEDmatch.

GEDmatch isn’t a DNA testing site or a genealogy records site. It’s a DNA tools site that provides tools not found elsewhere. Sometimes matches found at Ancestry will download to GEDmatch but not elsewhere. Ancestry does not provide genealogically valuable segment information.

GEDmatch not only provides segment information and triangulation, as do FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, but they also provide the ability for you to view the matches of your matches. This open-source approach is one of GEDmatch’s founding principles.

Uploading Your DNA to GEDmatch

After you sign in to GEDmatch, you’ll need to upload your DNA file from one of the vendors to GEDmatch. I strongly recommend using DNA files from the standard vendors, such as Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage or even LivingDNA. Other vendors use different chips or test different DNA locations and matching is sometimes less reliable.

After signing on to Gedmatch, you’ll see “Upload your DNA files.” Click on the link there for further prompts.

After uploading your DNA file, you’ll want to upload your GEDCOM file so that your matches can see if you have a common ancestor in your trees.

Upload Your GEDCOM file to GEDmatch

Scrolling down the sidebar below the “Upload Your DNA” section, past the various applications, you’ll see the Family Trees section.

You’ll see the GEDCOM upload section, as well as various comparison tools. Click on “Upload GEDCOM (Fast)” to begin.

GEDmatch GEDCOM Replacement Strategy

You can replace your GEDCOM file at GEDmatch at will. Since all information at GEDmatch is generated real-time, meaning when the request is submitted, nothing is “saved” nor pre-generated, so you won’t lose anything by replacing a GEDCOM file, at least not as of this writing.

However, you’ll need to delete your current GEDCOM file first. You can do that by scrolling to the bottom of your User Profile area where your kit number is listed. (Mine is obscured, below.) You’ll see your GEDCOM file information.

Click to manage resources, including deleting a GEDCOM file.

Currently, at GEDmatch, my direct line ancestral tree is sufficient.


Regardless of where you maintain your primary family tree, download or export it as a GEDCOM file and upload it elsewhere. You’re only cheating yourself (and your matches) if you don’t take advantage of all available tools.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

  • FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
  • MyHeritage DNA – ancestry autosomal DNA only, not health
  • MyHeritage DNA plus Health
  • MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – transfer your results from other vendors free
  • AncestryDNA – autosomal DNA only
  • 23andMe Ancestry – autosomal DNA only, no Health
  • 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
  • LivingDNA

Genealogy Products and Services

  • MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – genealogy software for your computer
  • MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
  • Legacy Family Tree Webinars – genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
  • Legacy Family Tree Software – genealogy software for your computer
  • Charting Companion – Charts and Reports to use with your genealogy software or FamilySearch

Genealogy Research

  • Legacy Tree Genealogists – professional genealogy research

Like this:

Like Loading. ..

How to open a GEDCOM file in a genealogy program

Home » Tips

Author Timokhin Alexander For reading 3 min. Views 85 Posted by

If you've spent a lot of time on the Internet researching your family tree, you've probably either downloaded File GEDCOM (.ged extension) from the Internet or received from fellow researchers. Or you may have an old GEDCOM file on your computer from research you did many years ago in a defunct family history program. In other words, you have a great family tree file that might contain important clues to your ancestors, and your computer can't open it. What to do?

These instructions will work for opening GEDCOM files in most family tree programs. For more detailed instructions, see your program's help file.

  1. Start the family tree program and close any open genealogy files.
  2. In the upper left corner of the screen, click the menu File .
  3. Select either Open . , Import or Import GEDCOM .
  4. If .ged is not already highlighted in the File Type field, then scroll down and select GEDCOM or .ged.
  5. Navigate to the folder on your computer where you save GEDCOM files and select the file you want to open.
  6. The program will create a new genealogical database containing information from GEDCOM. Enter a filename for this new database, making sure it can be distinguished from your own files. Example: 'powellgedcom'
  7. Press Save or Import .
  8. The program may then ask you to make several import options for your GEDCOM file. Just follow the instructions. If you're not sure what to choose, just leave the default options.
  9. Press OK .
  10. A confirmation window may appear indicating that the import was successful.
  11. You should now be able to read the GEDCOM file in your genealogy program as a normal family tree file.

Download the GEDCOM file to create an online family tree

If you don't have family tree software or prefer to work online, you can also use the GEDCOM file to create an online family tree, allowing you to easily view the data. However, if you received the GEDCOM file from someone else, you should make sure you get their permission before using this option, as they may not want the information they have shared with you to be available online. Most online family trees offer the option to create a completely private tree (see below).

Some online family tree programs, most notably Ancestry Member Trees and MyHeritage, include the ability to start a new family tree by importing a GEDCOM file.

  1. On the Download Family Tree page in Ancestry, click the Browse button on the right. from "Select File". In the window that opens, navigate to the appropriate GEDCOM file on your hard drive. Select the file and click the Open button. Enter your family tree name and accept the shipping agreement (read it first!).
  2. On the MyHeritage home page, select Import Tree (GEDCOM) under the Start button. Navigate to the file on your computer and click Open. Then select Start to import the GEDCOM file and create your family tree (don't forget to read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy!).

Both and offer options to create a completely private family tree online, viewable only by you or people you invite. However, these are not the default settings, so if you want to create a private family tree, you will need to take a few extra steps. See What are the privacy settings for my family site? See MyHeritage or Privacy for Your Family Tree on for step-by-step instructions.

Find your ancestors in Family Tree

Are you trying to find an ancestor or deceased family member? If so, we encourage you to search our Family Tree, the largest single family tree in the world. It contains over a billion names. The tree is free and public, and the ancestor you're looking for may already be in it.

Gather everything you know about your deceased relative - their full name, birth or death information, if possible the names of parents, spouses or children - and follow these steps to find out if they are listed on Family Tree. Or click on the button below and go directly to our "Search" page.

Family Tree Search is a quick way to start compiling or adding more information to your family tree

If you want to find a relative who might be in the Family Tree, go to the FamilySearch website and then in the Family Tree tab select Find . Get ready to sign in or create a free FamilySearch account. (You can also access this page via the tab Search and select Family tree .)

On the Find page, enter what you know about your deceased relative. The system will open a page with a simplified search bar that works for the initial search. However, for best results, we recommend that you open the advanced search feature by clicking More Options .

Tree Search looks and functions much like the FamilySearch Historical Record Search tool. We did it on purpose, of course. Any search strategies you have learned for this page will be equally useful here. Let's go through each filter individually and see how they work.

1. Names

Let's consider some recommendations for filling in the fields for full name.

  • Enter the person's last name in the Last Name field.
  • Use the Name Variation tab to list maiden names, nicknames, aliases, other spellings of the first name, middle surnames, and any name changes that may have occurred during the person's lifetime.
  • 2. Floor

    Entering the gender of a person Male or Female if known, will narrow your search results.

    3. Events from life

    In the line "Add event from life" enter the information you know about where this person was during his life. Be sure to change the filter from Any to Birth , Marriage , Residence or Death . This will probably make your search more accurate.

    4. Family members

    In section Add family members , enter what you know about the person's spouse, father, mother, or other relationship. You can use the same guidelines and strategies for entering names here as before.

    5. Exact Search

    Directly below the Family Members section is the radio button Show exact search . Be careful using this option. Use it only when the system produces search results in such a volume that you cannot analyze. The actual data in Family Tree may differ slightly from the names, dates, and places you enter, so it's best to be flexible with your search criteria.

    It is important to note that by enabling the checkbox Show exact search , there is no need to immediately search for exact criteria. The system opens fields opposite all search filters on the screen, which you can select or leave blank. It is strongly recommended that you fill in only those fields for which you absolutely need to search by exact criteria. Start your search using a small number of these fields. In other words, you can search for exact criteria for a specific date of birth without using other fields.

    After entering the information you know, press Search to search for your ancestor's profile in Family Tree. When the system returns the search results, click on the name to see a summary of that person's information. Then click on the name in the dropdown box to go to the person's page.

    Helpful Tips for Finding the Right Person

    Too Many Results

    Use the gray button filters at the top of the page to quickly narrow your search results:

    In the search, as shown in these screenshots, I first enter my great-grandfather's name. As you can see, this broad search brought up a lot of results - too many to explore. If I click on the filter Birth and select a specific region of the world, I can immediately decrease this number.

    No results or matches

    If your initial search was unsuccessful, use the search bar on the right side of the screen to change your criteria. Note: Depending on your screen size, the search bar may be initially hidden. If so, press Search in the right corner to open it.

    To broaden your search, you can change things that might be too specific, such as the exact year. Increasing the date range for a particular event can be an effective way. You can also try selecting Birth or Place of residence instead of Any in the Life Event section. If applicable, use the "Name Option" line to enter your maiden name, alias, or other spelling of the first name. Then press Search .

    If you still can't find the person you want after editing your search, that person may not have been added to Family Tree. In this case, you can add this person yourself.

    To add a person to the Tree, you will need their name, and then you can enter as much additional information about them as possible, such as where the person was born or where they lived.

    Hint: If you don't have enough information about your ancestor, try to find it in the historical record, for example, in a birth certificate, marriage certificate, military card or death certificate.

    Using the "Settings" option to customize your search results

    Experienced explorers will certainly appreciate the functionality of the "Settings" section that appears at the top of the search results page. In Preferences, you can make important decisions about formatting and exporting search results.

    For example, the first option in the "Settings" section is the choice of displaying search results as a data page or as a fixed table: data page. The format makes it easy to scroll through and find matching results.

    In contrast, with a fixed table, we can analyze a small subset of the search results that we think are promising and see how they match what we knew about the person.

    Next in the Preferences panel is the Language Options section. Here you can choose to view the information as it was originally entered into FamilySearch, or view it with minor edits, which we call "translations," to make it easier to read. A simple example would be "January 1855" which, if refined or translated, would be "January 1855".

    Last but not least in the Preferences panel is the option to download search results to your computer. Perhaps you have your own methods of accounting and filtering information. If yes, then you can download the information in any of the following file formats: XLS, XLSX, CSV, ODS, TSV and ODS.

    Find your ancestors in FamilySearch Family Tree!

    Ready to learn something new about your ancestors? There is room for everyone in our Family Tree. We want everyone to help in its creation!

    Select a deceased ancestor and see if their name is among the 1.2 billion names in the FamilySearch Family Tree! Find a person's profile and enjoy stories, photos, timelines and more about them.

    Learn more