How To Download Your Family Tree From


This is the pedigree view of my family tree.


Near the top left hand corner of the screen next to the name of my tree, ‘Willison Family Tree’ is a menu titled Tree Pages.  Click on Tree Pages and then click Tree Settings.


Near the bottom right hand corner of the screen it says, “Export your family tree data, as a GEDCOM file, to your computer.”  Click on the green button Export Tree.  Depending on the size of your tree this may happen quickly or it might take a little while.  It’s a good opportunity to make another cup of tea.


When it has finished you will see the above screen and the green button has changed.  It now says Download your GEDCOM file.  A GEDCOM file is a standard file for family tree software programs.  If you have a family tree software program installed on your computer you can use it to open your GEDCOM file.  Even if you don’t have a family tree software program on your computer it is still a very good idea to keep a copy of your family tree on your own computer as a back up.  I’ve spent years creating my tree on and I would be devastated if I lost it.  Please be aware that this process does not download the photographs or stories you have uploaded to Ancestry.

When you click Download your GEDCOM file, make sure you know where it is being downloaded to on your computer. Sometimes Gets A Bad Rap

Please note: I don’t have any affiliation with and I don’t receive any money from them at all I simply like their product.

I feel that sometimes gets a bad rap and it’s not necessarily all deserved. I’ve used over the last eight or nine years of researching my own and others’ family trees and yes I’ve fallen for beginner mistakes however I like to think I’ve learned from those mistakes and found a way to make Ancestry work for me.


I have some basic rules which I stick to:

– I don’t use Ancestry’s tool for merging someone else’s tree with mine because this is how errors are copied from one tree to another. I write down any information I didn’t have before and then click on Ignore Hint. I can always go back and look at it at a later time because Ancestry keeps a list of your ignored hints. The things I’ve written down from other trees I can then investigate for myself.



– Birth, death, marriage, census and electoral roll hints. I try to remain sceptical, and look for any inconsistencies in the information provided and what I already have. Ancestry gives you loads of hints but remain sceptical and research the hint before accepting it. I use other websites such as,, newspapers eg. Trove or the Gale News Vault, local libraries, history centres, visiting cemeteries, books etc. to either prove or disprove the information.

Two of these hints are about a lady in New Zealand instead of Australia.

Two of these hints are about a lady in New Zealand instead of Australia.

– Cite your sources. This is a general research rule which is largely overlooked by people using and I’m not really sure why as it can be as simple or as complicated as you would like. You can use the Add A New Source Citation button (as in the picture below) or use the description field to add source information.




– If you’re not sure then don’t do it.  If it’s information you’ve gathered and you’re not sure whether to add it or not then keep a record of it and you can return to it later.  There is no rush to add new information to your family tree.  I have a pin up board on the wall near my computer and sometimes I will pin notes there and as I do more research I will often go back to those notes and find out that they either do or don’t fit with the new information I have.

In January, Thomas MacEntee of GeneaBloggers fame suggested a Genealogy Do-Over .  I’m not doing a do-over but I am, when I have time, revising all the branches of my family tree to root out my errors which have crept in along the way.