Monday, August 12, 2013

Dear Randy - How Do I Download a GEDCOM File From My Ancestry Member Tree?

I received this question from one of my OASIS "Beginning Computer Genealogy" class students yesterday.  She had created a free Member Tree on and then had downloaded one of the free genealogy software programs, and wanted to create family tree charts and family group sheets in the software.

First, I had to explain that GEDCOM means GEnealogical Data COMmunication.  A GEDCOM file can be used to export a family tree from one platform and import it into another platform.  The platform could be a software program on your computer, or an online family tree.

I'll use one of my Ancestry Member Trees as the example:

1)  On the Pedigree (or Family) view of the tree, note the "Tree pages" link at the top left, next to the Member Tree name (on the screen below, to the right of the words "Randy Seaver's ancestors - July 2013:"

2)  Run your mouse over the "Tree pages" link and a dropdown menu will appear:

3)  Click on the "Tree settings" link on the screen above, and the "Tree Settings" page will appear:

On the right hand panel (that has "Your home person in this tree" at the top), there is a "Manage your tree" section with the words "Export your family tree data as a GEDCOM file to your computer."  There is a green "Export tree" button.

4)  Click on the green "Export tree" button, and the GEDCOM file will start to be created:

You cannot see the file yet.

5)  When the GEDCOM file has been created, the words in the "Manage your tree" area changes:

The green button now says "Download your GEDCOM file."

6)  I clicked on the button and the GEDCOM file was downloaded to my Downloads file folder on my computer.

On your computer, it may go to another file folder.  You need to know where the file went in order to import it into your genealogy software program.

Importing the GEDCOM file into a genealogy software program, or into a family tree program, is the next step, and the process depends on the specific program or online tree system.

Many of us forget that basic computer operations like file saving and finding, downloading and using genealogy software, and basic genealogy concepts like pedigree charts and family group sheets, are not familiar to genealogy learners and even to many online researchers. The genealogy "big tent" needs to include everyone and help them learn and use all available means - online and traditional resources, online trees and software, charts and reports, and more.  This is where genealogical societies can really help - basic genealogy instruction in classes or small group meetings, discussion and practice, and one-on-one consultations.

I am really proud that my student, after 4 classes and 8 hours, has added over 150 persons to her Ancestry Member Tree, has downloaded a software program, and wants to create nice charts and reports to display her research.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Cousin Russ said...

Sounds like a good teacher to me. Congratulations.


Cormac said...

Now you have to get them to properly cite their sources!

Celia Lewis said...

Pictures always help - screen shots are one of the best clues, so a learner can very slowly check each time they do something,that it's correct. Great!

Marshall said...

Sadly, this only works for trees you own; you can't do this for other people's trees - even if they've given you access (marked you as a guest, or contributor) to their trees.

Karen Batchelor said...

Thanks for this post, Randy. The instructions here helped me easily upload a Gedcom file to Gedmatch.