Help! AncestryDNA Match with Unlinked Tree

Diahan Southard

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The unlinked tree of your AncestryDNA match may have the family history answers you need. Here’s how to get to an unlinked tree.

A DNA match without a family tree linked to his or her test results can be frustrating because it’s harder to determine how you’re related. Recently, Ancestry started showing your matches who DO have trees on the site but who haven’t linked those trees to their DNA results yet. Here’s what the Unlinked Tree note looks like:

unlinked tree AncestryDNA match.png

When you see an unlinked tree for one of your DNA matches, click on it! You’ll see a screen like this (which I’ve privacy protected by just using my match’s initials):

unlinked tree AncestryDNA match page.png

Here’s what you’re looking at:

  1. A summary of your genetic relationship to your match. In my case, this match is identified on my mother’s side by the site because my mother has tested at Ancestry, too.

  2. Unfortunately, you’re not going to see common ancestors for someone with an unlinked tree.

  3. You’ll see your match’s unlinked public tree here. Those who don’t link their trees often have small trees, like with 10 people or less in them (themselves, their parents, maybe grandparents). That can be disappointing. BUT sometimes, especially with closer matches, it can be enough to tell you how they hook up to your tree. Click on the box that says Public Tree.

Because it’s a public tree, you can look at it. Here are the 10 people on it (I had to click on the Siblings dropdown menu to see them):

unlinked tree AncestryDNA match public tree.png

I can see the names of SB’s parents and three of her grandparents (I privacy-protected their full names). The names shown as Private mean they are still living.

For this 2nd-3rd cousin match, even this small tree could be enough to help me identify which branch of the family she descends from, especially if I’ve already built out an excellent family tree that’s optimized for DNA matching purposes with as many descendants as possible.

You may also see a few “locked” Unlinked Trees, which show up in gray text:


If you click on this match, you’ll see something like this:

Because the unlinked tree is private (locked), you can’t see it without requesting access to it. Do that by messaging your match, which you can do with the Message box in the upper right. Here are some tips for reaching out to your DNA matches for the first time.

Still can’t figure out how you’re related to your DNA match? Try strategies like these:

AncestryDNA Tour


Our AncestryDNA Tour covers all this and more! In this online, on-demand video tour, we share tips on getting started with the plethora of  genetic genealogy tools Ancestry offers to track down more information about your family history. The AncestryDNA Tour includes over 90 minutes of video instruction divided into 16 different segments, and comes with a printable, interactive workbook, so you can apply what you learn to your very own tree. With the Tour, you’ll be an AncestryDNA pro in no time!

Tell me more about the AncestryDNA Tour!


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<a href="" target="_self">Diahan Southard</a>

Diahan Southard

As founder and CEO of Your DNA Guide, Diahan Southard has been teaching people how to find family history answers in their DNA for several years, and she's been in the genetic genealogy field since its infancy. Diahan teaches internationally, writes for popular magazines, consults with leading testing companies, is author of Your DNA Guide–The Book, and producer of Your DNA Guide–the Academy, an online learning experience.


  1. Teresa

    Hello i have already separated my dna matches with the help of 2 other siblings on birth mom side. My highest cm is 3 hundred something on dad side. Then 1 hundred something. The problem is i hit a brick wall. I talk to the highest got some names but still nothing. I was born in Texas on base. I know my birth name and who i thought was the dad is not. What should i do?

  2. Lisa

    I recently found eI have a half sister through Ancestry DNA. I have emailed her for over y year now.
    Her tree is unlinked and private. I have been emailing for over a year.
    I’m so excited and just want to get in touch with her.
    What can I do ?

  3. Mary Keeling

    I have places all my Dad’s Paternal matches in the Dot System, and am working from there, Determined to find my 4th Great Grandparents, have help from a Distant Cousin,

  4. Lianne Johnson

    April 3, 2024,
    Hi Diahan,
    I have a solid pedigree to the 4th great grandparents and most lines through the 5th great grandparents. So, I’m mostly trying to find/verify 4th or 5th gr grandparents through DNA. I know I’m pushing the limits. With your book in one hand and my match list from Ancestry in the other I’m following your steps. I found a 4th cousin as my BKM and dotted all, then found a 4th cousin BMM and dotted them. I made lucidcharts for the genetic networks. Then I got lost in the steps in the book. I think I need to do genealogy, but my target ancestor I only have few records. I’ve signed up for the 30 minute personal session to check that I’m on the track and what to do next. Looking forward to starting the Academy today at 2:00.


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