How to Download Your Family Tree from FamilySearch

Sunny Morton

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There IS a way to download your family tree from FamilySearch so you can attach your tree to your DNA test results. Here’s how.

Download family tree from FamilySearch.png

When you build your family tree on the free genealogy website FamilySearch, you help contribute to a global, shared, public family tree. This tree-building model has its pluses and minuses; it’s free and collaborative, but people may contribute mistakes as well as good information. And the site doesn’t have a way for you to download your tree data directly.

But I have some good news. First, 23andMe users can link their FamilySearch data directly. Second, for other sites that require you to upload a tree, you can download your tree data from FamilySearch. Here’s how to do it.

How to download your family tree from FamilySearch

FamilySearch family tree biological parents preferred.jpgFirst, review your ancestry as shown in the FamilySearch tree to make sure it’s accurate (to the best of your knowledge) and reflecting biological ancestry (again, to the best of your knowledge). For example, my relative James Edgar Hall has more than one set of parents listed in the FamilySearch tree. His mother died when he was young and his father married my great-grandmother, who raised James. In his personal profile page, I’ve set the preferred view to his biological mother where you see the arrow pointing. This is so I can download a tree that’s most relevant to my DNA matches.

Downloading your FamilySearch Tree with RootsMagic

Downloading your tree from FamilySearch requires you to use third-party software that is certified by FamilySearch to work with its tree, ie., Ancestral Quest, Legacy Family Tree or RootsMagic. Here are instructions for how to do this with RootsMagic Essentials, the free downloadable version of RootsMagic software. (If you use the full version of RootsMagic software, follow the same instructions.)

RootsMagic Essentials.gifDownload RootsMagic Essentials. Go to the RootsMagic website landing page for RootsMagic Essentials. Click Free Download, and then enter your name and email address. (Click if you want them to send you product news and updates.) Then select whether to download the PC or Mac version. Install the software (on a PC, you’ll click on the downloaded file and run it). Now it’s time to follow these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Open RootsMagic Essentials.
  2. From the welcome screen, select the option to create a new file OR from the File dropdown menu, choose New.
  3. Enter a file name. Click the option for FamilySearch Family Tree support and, if you will be doing any additional research from this file, click the option to enable web hints and match to FamilySearch when hints are found. Choose additional options as you wish, as shown below. Then click OK.

FamilySearch family tree import to RootsMagic 1.jpg

4. You’ll see an empty family tree open in front of you. At the top of the window, click on the FamilySearch icon. Its appearance and position may change slightly over time. Here’s what it looks like now:

5. A FamilySearch dialog box will open. Click the option to log in to FamilySearch. Log in; select any other options you like, such as automatic future logins.

6. After successfully logging in, click Import. You’ll be given options as to how many generations of your ancestry to import. You can also import the tree of a relative in FamilySearch, if you know their person ID.

7. It may take awhile for FamilySearch to import all the data you’ve requested. Once it’s done, the empty pedigree chart on the screen will fill.

8. Now it’s time to export the tree file you’ve created. Go to File > Export. Select the items that should be included in your exported tree, then click to export the file.

9. Assign a file path to your new file. The filetype is a .GED, commonly pronounced “jedcom.”

10. Optional: if you know of any non-biological lines in your ancestry, but there were not known biological parents to list on FamilySearch, you can remove those non-biological lines in RootsMagic. Make any additional edits you like before uploading; RootsMagic Support has lots of online user support to help you do that. See these tips for creating the best family tree for DNA matching.

11. Upload your tree file to your DNA testing site to attach it to your genetic profile (here’s how to do this in AncestryDNA or MyHeritage DNA. This will make your DNA matches experience SO much richer!

What’s next? Build your family tree by working with your DNA matches! Get the most out of your experience with our freshly-updated quick reference guides for 23andMe, AncestryDNA, Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage DNA.

Trying to extend your family tree? I suggest you purchase our inexpensive, must-have guide, Finding an Ancestor Using DNA.

Ready for your next step for your DNA? We’ve compiled all our best information on how to move forward once you’ve gotten your DNA results. Take a look at our free guide, 4 Next Steps for Your DNA.

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10 Comments

  1. Nancy Myers

    I’ve been hoping for a way to download "my" part of the FamilySearch tree, so gave this a quick try using RootsMagic Essentials. After creating a new file, clicking on the FS icon, and entering log-in data, I get the following error message "FamilySearch Error – HTTP/1.1 404 Not Found". Any idea how to solve that?

    Reply
    • Sunny Jane Morton

      Hi Nancy, I’m glad this article may prove to be of value to you. Are you using the current version of RootsMagic Essentials (7)? This is key for interfacing with FamilySearch. Consider reading the FamilySearch-related support FAQs at (https://support.rootsmagic.com/hc/en-us). If your RM Essentials is current, my next step would be to ask RootsMagic via their website chat tool, available at the lower right corner of your screen when you visit the site. I encourage you to post any follow-up success so others with the same problem know what to do. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Erick

    Thanks for the article. I’ve used both RootMagic and Ancestry to import my FamilySearch data and export Gedcom files. I was really hoping to get latitude/longitude data in the Gedcom’s, but it’s not showing up. Is this due to FamilySearch, or should I try other 3rd party software that might include this information?

    Reply
  3. Diahan Southard

    Erick, We’re not super-experts in software, so we reached out to Amie Tennant of The Genealogy Reporter (https://thegenealogyreporter.com/). She offered this helpful suggestion: "I would suppose there is something in place at FamilySearch that sets the ‘boundaries’ at x-many generations and x-many collateral lines. Otherwise, the tree you download would be GINORMOUS! I would suppose that he could download another part of his tree, say a collateral line, and then merge the two trees via RootsMagic. However, the merging option at RootsMagic may only be available in the paid version. I have merged gedcoms on it before with great success." Thanks to Erick for your question, and to Amie for your answer!

    Reply
  4. Alys Howerton

    I tried using RootsMagic free version to download my tree from FamilySearch. I did successfully get my straightline tree, along with siblings like my Aunts and Uncles. However, my tree is extensive and goes into my great-great-grandmother’s first cousins. That information was all lost in the downloaded version. I’ve put a tremendous amount of research into some of those people and don’t want to lose the data. I also have information written in the story area, along with photos, and newspaper clippings going as far back as the early 1800’s in England. Those things didn’t translate either. Is there a program that will pull everything, even if I have to pay for it, or am I stuck forever on FamilySearch and must hope that they never lose my data? Thanks, I hope you can answer my questions!

    Alys

    Reply
  5. Diahan Southard

    Alys, If you’d like to stay with RootsMagic (and purchase the full version), then follow the tip from Amie Tennant below. Otherwise, here’s a tutorial from Connie Knox that talks about how other software helps you download from FamilySearch. Good luck to you!

    Reply
  6. Rachel Robison

    I have a question – how do I download only my direct ancestors? I followed the above instructions and it is downloading my 3rd great aunts, etc. My mom’s side goes way back so I set it for 20 generations so I can compare with what I have on ancestry but it will take forever and will be enormous if I download my maternal 20th great aunts! Help!

    Reply
  7. Diahan Southard

    Everyone has great questions! We are DNA experts, first and foremost, and this article is just meant as an introductory how-to for DNA testers working on their trees. For advanced questions and to explore how to download your FamilySearch tree with different kinds of software, see Connie Knox’s tutorial at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eohdA0OlXdY.

    Reply
  8. Patti Miller

    If I update something on FamilySearch will it automatically update on RootsMagic as well?

    Reply
    • Diahan Southard

      Patti, if you have your RootsMagic connected to your FamilySearch account, then yes, updates made in either place are synced.

      Reply

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