You may wish to change the name of your family tree on MyHeritage after you first create it.
If you started the tree on the website, it’s named after the first surname you added. If you imported the tree from a GEDCOM file, then it picks up the name of the file – which is often hard to read.
This article gives you a pictorial guide on changing the name of a MyHeritage family tree. And we cover some tips and recommendations for picking names that help both you and other MyHeritage users.
Step By Step Guide To Change A MyHeritage Family Tree Name
Step 1: Switch to the family site that contains the tree
If you only have one family site on MyHeritage, you can skip this step.
If you have multiple sites, check the top left corner of the Home Page – this shows the site you are currently working with. You can toggle the drop-down to choose the site with the family tree you wish to rename.
Step 2: Expand the “Family tree” menu and choose “Manage Trees”
The “Manage Trees” menu item will take you to a list of all your family trees within this site.
Step 3: Click the “Edit tree settings” link beside the tree you wish to rename
The settings link will open the Tree Settings page for a specific tree.
Step 4: Edit the tree name and save your changes
You simply type over the current name in the box at the top of the page.
Don’t forget to hit the save button to commit your changes.
What if you can’t edit the tree name?
If the edit box is grayed out or you can’t change the text, then you probably created this tree in Family Tree Builder. See the next section on how to change the name in that scenario.
How To Change A Tree Name Created In MyHeritage Family Tree Builder
You may have created your family tree in the desktop Family Tree Builder and synced it up to the MyHeritage website. In that case, you won’t be able to change the tree name online.
But all you need to do is edit the name of the tree in the FTB software. Then you can synchronize again with the website, and the name will change appropriately.
Choosing A Good Name For Your Family Tree
So, what’s a good way of naming your family tree? You’re halfway to a good standard if you don’t name it “My Family Tree”.
You have three objectives when choosing a name for your tree.
(1) Help yourself with distinctive tree names when you have several trees
Having trees called “My Tree” and “My Other Tree” is not going to help you after you come back from a break with your hobby!
(2) Help others e.g. your DNA or record matches
When I’m working down a list of suggested smart matches with other people’s trees, it really helps if the names have some meaning. I’m more likely to remember if I’ve looked at the tree before.
You’re entitled to name your tree whatever you want, but here’s an example that isn’t exactly memorable (“1805-1 Family Tree”).
(3) Help MyHeritage
MyHeritage explicitly asks you to keep the name short. This is so important that the request is right there in red beside the tree name!
They don’t actually say why this is such a great tip. I suspect it’s due to technical or display reasons. I experimented with entering a very long name, and they don’t stop you from saving the change.
But I noticed that a lengthy name messes up the top of the Family View display in the online tree editor.
MyHeritage Default Tree Name
You may have noticed on MyHeritage that most people go for the single surname plus “ Family Tree”. I’m talking about names like “Smith Family Tree”.
You can see this if you have access to Smart Matches (a list of trees that may match entries in your own tree).
This is because when users create a tree within the MyHeritage editor, it defaults the name to the first surname they enter.
This isn’t a bad choice for a tree name! It’s certainly better than “My Family Tree”.
GEDCOM tree names
When you import a GEDCOM file, the website will name the tree according to the file name. This includes underlines e.g. “smith_family_tree”.
The lower case and underlines can be a little hard to read. It’s a good idea to clean up the name with proper capitalization and spaces.
Naming Your Tree According To Your Family Lines
We’ve seen that the default name includes a single surname. A lot of researchers like to extend the tree name to include the principal lines that they are researching.
Using both parents’ surnames is a common choice. The drawback is that this often solely represents the paternal lines on both sides.
Extending this to the surnames of your four grandparents is also a good option, although it’s starting to get a little lengthy!
Naming Speculative Or Research Trees On MyHeritage
If you are trying to chase down documents and evidence for a new branch, you may wish to create a separate tree. This keeps the speculative entries away from your public family tree where you are certain of your research.
Many of us end up with ten or more trees for research purposes.
It’s a good idea to name these in a way that you know which is in a state of progress. Prefixing with “RESEARCH – [usual tree name]“ or “DRAFT – [usual tree name]“ should help you with this.
Using Tree Names For “Versioning” On MyHeritage
If you come from a software background, you’ll know what I mean by “versioning”. Basically, it’s a way of getting access to older versions of your tree.
Why would you want to do this? Well, it can be very handy to get back to the version before you brought in all those changes from a Smart Match that turned out to be completely wrong!
By the way – If you sometimes think the smart match feature does more harm than good, then read our article on tips for using MyHeritage smart matches to research your tree.
Unfortunately, versioning does not come as an inbuilt feature within MyHeritage. Ancestry doesn’t have it either, so I’m not knocking MyHeritage for this. It would require complex software to handle it.
I mention it here because I see some MyHeritage users have their own form of versioning by using the tree name. It’s where you see several trees in one site with names like these:
- Smith Family Tree 20180504
- Smith Family Tree 20191128
- Smith Family Tree 20200603
Those numbers at the end represent dates (YYYY MM DD). The site owner is simply giving himself or herself a way to get back to the tree they had at a certain date. Usually, they’ll make a new copy of the tree when they are about to introduce major changes.