How to save a family tree from ancestry

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

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How to make a genealogical tree of family and clan

How to preserve the memory of the past of your family? Collecting old photographs and yellowed letters in boxes on the mezzanine is not the best option: in a couple of generations, your descendants will hardly guess who these smiling people from black and white cards are. How about translating that memory into something meaningful, like a real family tree? Its creation will be an exciting quest for the whole family, and in the process of immersing yourself in your own story, incredible discoveries can await you all.

Building a family tree is not easy, but interesting. To do this, you will have to conduct a comprehensive study, collect all the data and photographs, and then try to create a family tree with your own hands from all this.

In our article you will find not only tips for finding information about ancestors, but also various tree design options. We have also prepared for you two templates for filling in the family tree - for children and for adults.

How to make a family tree with your own hands

Where to start

Before you begin, you must determine for yourself why all this is needed. Are you in the mood for deep exploration, or is your goal just to share stories about your parents and grandparents with your kids?

A well-defined goal will help you achieve the final result faster.

Think of a plan, break it down into small steps so you can easily track progress. And this will add to your motivation not to give up halfway through - believe me, you will need it.

Finding information about relatives

Once you've decided how far you want to go, the most interesting step is gathering information about relatives and distant ancestors. You will surely learn many funny and touching stories and find some distant relatives living on the other side of the world. Or maybe even reveal a family secret - who knows? To find as much information as possible and understand how to make a family tree of a family, use the following methods:

  • Questioning relatives

Start your search by interviewing your next of kin. Organize family tea gatherings with grandparents - they will be happy to share valuable memories. Arrange a video conference with those who live in other cities and countries, or just write to them on social networks.

  • Family archive analysis

Carefully study all documents, letters and diaries that have been preserved in your family. In birth, marriage and death certificates, passports, employment records and diplomas, you will find answers to key questions that are important for the pedigree. These records will help restore information that loved ones could not remember. Look through old photographs: perhaps the grandmother forgot to tell about her second cousin. Already at this stage, you can choose photo cards for your family tree.

  • Internet searches

Browse various genealogy websites and related resources for historical information. For example, the website "Feat of the People" provides open access to archival documents about the exploits and awards of all soldiers of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–1945.

Register on several thematic forums. For example, on the All-Russian Genealogical Tree forum, it is possible to search for a specific person by last name, regions and countries.

Try to find distant relatives of your generation on Odnoklassniki or VKontakte. But do not forget that in a correct genealogical research, any information must be confirmed by archival certificates.

  • Collection of information in registry offices and archives

If you are looking for information about marriage, dates of birth or death, please contact the registry office. If a relative has something to do with the army - for example, is a veteran of the Second World War - make a request to the military registration and enlistment office at the place of residence, service or conscription. But keep in mind: in order to obtain documents of deceased relatives, you must prove your relationship with them, providing, among other things, your birth certificate.

Don't hope for a quick result when searching for genealogy in archives. The process can take months or even years. But the information you find can greatly advance your research.

  • Contact the experts

If you do not want to spend time building a family tree, contact the professionals. Archives staff, designers, and specialty companies will help you find the information you need and create a family tree. In addition, with their help you can create a family tree book, a film presentation and even a family coat of arms.

What are the types of a family tree

There are several methods for compiling a tree.

  • Descending tree

The family scheme is formed from an ancestor to descendants. This design method allows you to visually trace the history of the family from distant times to the present day.

  • Pedigree

Compiled from a person to his ancestors. Such a structure will be especially convenient for those who have not yet completed the search for information and are consistently moving from the known to the unknown.

  • Round table

It is built in a circle, in the center of which one of the children is placed. The second, outer, circle is divided in half and the data of the mother and father are recorded in it. In the third circle, cut into four parts, grandparents are indicated. Then a fourth circle is added, which is divided into eight parts, and so on. This type of tree is quite rare. But this scheme is the most compact.

How to arrange a family tree

  • Family tree on computer

Programs for creating a family tree will help you save time and get a guaranteed result. Use the MyHeritage online service or GenoPro, Family Tree Builder or Tree of Life software. Choose a template, enter your pedigree data and enjoy the result.

You can also find or draw an empty tree yourself in a graphics editor.

  • DIY family tree

Get creative with your family tree results. We have selected a few examples for you to inspire.

Family box

For each ancestor, a box is wound up or one cell is allocated, in which documents, photos, objects are placed. By opening such a box, you can touch the past and find out what kind of person your ancestor was.

Generic tree from local materials

This design option is perfect for a kindergarten or school project.

Family tree in album

Decorative stand with photo frames

How to work with the family tree template

We have prepared two templates that both children and adults will love.

Open Tree Template for Adults

Open Tree Template for Children

Templates can be used both electronically and in print.

  • Print out a blank template and include drawings or photos of yourself and your ancestors.
  • Use a photo editor and paste the scanned images into a template. Print the result.

Filling out a template in Picverse Photo Editor

In Picverse Photo Editor you can not only edit pictures and insert them into a template, but also restore old photos.

Check out our sample of filling out the template - it will be easier for you to figure out how to draw up a family tree correctly.

1) Launch Picverse Photo Editor.

2) If you want to restore photo that has lost its appearance due to old age, open the image in the program. In the tab Correction in the panel on the right, select the option Manual . Open block Smart Restoration . If you want to convert black and white photos to color, activate the switch Make color . Press button Restore . Photos will be automatically restored.

3) In order to adjust colors and sharpness , in the same tab Correction open the required block and change the necessary parameters. Save the result.

4) To add a picture to template , click File –> Open and select the downloaded template to fill. Then go to tab Insert picture and open the photo you want to insert. To resize the inserted photo, drag the corners of the dotted box. Rotate the photo using the arrow button. If you are happy with the result, press Apply .

5) Once you have inserted all the images, click File –> Save .

How to make a family tree: rules, programs

Knowledge of a family tree gives its owner a solid advantage. This is a chance to tell the younger generation about their ancestors, to instill love and pride in their own family, to preserve the history of the achievements of relatives. In 90% of families, the custodians of information are the older generation, with the departure of which knowledge will be lost. A simple solution would be to compile a family tree. Significant assistance in this process will be provided to you by specialized programs that are presented on the Internet.

Where and how to find information for compiling a family tree

The amount of work that must be done to build a family tree can frighten a novice historian. We suggest using the available methods of obtaining information:

  • Interview the older generation. It is best to do this in person. Using a voice recorder or notepad, record the names, dates of birth, marital status and occupation of the ancestors. Grandparents will be happy to provide you with old photographs that will be used to create the tree.
  • Search in archives. Documents and photographs are stored in family or municipal archives. You should carefully consider the documents found so as not to make a mistake and not include the namesake in your personal archive.
  • Search for ancestors using the Internet. On modern resources, it is possible to find participants in the Second World War, as well as relatives who left a mark on history.
  • This is a painstaking and time-consuming step that requires patience and meticulous data collection.

For more information on how to collect information, see this article.

How a family tree should look like

Having collected information, a person often encounters a lack of understanding of how to systematize it. There are several of the simplest and most accessible options for compiling a family tree for a novice historian. Let's consider each of them in order to be able to choose the optimal solution:

  • From the side of the father. In this case, information about all relatives along the line of the pope is collected and systematized. In the middle of the left column is a photo and information about the customer. Then up are information about his ancestors (father, grandfather, great-grandfather) and down about children (grandchildren). Branches going to the right allow you to use information about cousins, uncles and other relatives.
  • From the mother's side. Compiled according to a similar principle.
  • Ascending family tree. In this case, a person who restores the history of his ancestors is placed at the base. It symbolizes the trunk. Large branches depart from it - these are the parents. Smaller branches are grandparents. And so on.
  • The descending family tree is exactly the opposite.

Having chosen the best option for the future scheme, you should proceed directly to its creation. For this purpose, you can use a sheet of drawing paper or resort to the help of specialized computer programs. Consider the products presented on the domestic market.

Overview of programs for compiling a family tree

Let's start with the fact that all programs can be divided into: It is possible to enter a huge amount of information on each person, scans of photographs and documents.

  • Free. Easy to use, accessible to the novice genealogist or hobbyist who wants to recreate their own history.
  • What programs do professionals recommend using? Paid products include: