How to add photos to an Ancestry tree

Have you got photos of your great-grandparents that you want to add to your Ancestry tree? Would you like a picture to be displayed as your ancestor’s profile image in the tree? Have you spotted an image in other members’ trees that you would like to copy in the right way? This step-by-step guide will show you how.

Uploading photos to your Ancestry family tree

  1. Click on the tree entry of the person of interest and open their Profile.
  2. Navigate to the Gallery tab, which is beside the Facts tab.
  3. Click the “Add” button on the right of the screen and choose “Upload Photos”.
  4. Click the “Choose files” green button to open a file explorer on your local machine.
  5. Find the local image file and “Open” or “Upload” it.
  6. Wait for the “Done” button to appear, which shows the upload has completed.
  7. When you click on Done you will see the photo in the Gallery.

Do you want the picture to display as profile image? Take these additional steps:

  1. Click on the photo you want to set as the profile photo.
  2. The right-hand menu shows you the person’s name as a drop-down menu.
  3. Choose “Use as Profile image” from the drop-down.

You can now return to the profile page, and you will see the photo as the profile image.

A video walkthrough from our Youtube channel

If you’d like a video walkthrough, here you go. Then read on because we cover some additional aspects and scenarios in this blog post.

What is Ancestry’s Media Gallery?

Every tree has its own Media Gallery. You access the Media Gallery within a tree by opening the drop-down menu under the tree name.

The Media Gallery shows you all uploaded photos and other media. But this full list doesn’t display which person, if any, is linked to the piece of media. You need to click on the photo to see who it’s linked to in your tree.

The allternative view is to look at the media gallery associated with a particular tree profile. When you open a tree profile, you land on the Facts tab of the profile. Its own gallery is right beside the Facts tab.

Media Gallery photos versus Tree Profile photos

All photos that you upload go into the media gallery of the tree. But each photo you upload via the Person Profile page does not automatically get set to be the profile image. You need to take some extra steps described in the earlier instructions.

Although most of your photos will be linked to a person in your tree, they don’t have to be. You can unlink a photo from a profile.

This removes the photo from the tree profile gallery, but it stays in the tree gallery. You can attach it to someone else, or leave it floating unattached.

What’s the difference between the two upload buttons?

Our instructions advised you to use the “Add” drop-down to upload a photo. I took this route because it specifically has an “Upload photo” menu item. The alternative is to use the “Upload media” button in the middle of the page.

So, what’s the difference? You’ll use the media button if you’re dealing with file types other than photos. These could be PDFs or word processing documents.

However, you can also upload your photos via “Upload media”. The dialog box is slightly different, as Ancestry asks you to define what type of media you are providing.

Notice that “Portrait” is the first option.

You don’t actually have to set any of this additional information. But be aware that if the file is an image and you don’t set it to “headstone” or any other choice – Ancestry decides that its is a Portrait and labels it as such in the media gallery.

This has caught me out. In the gallery for my main tree, I have a shed load of images of newspaper clippings. These are primarily obituaries. Most of them are labelled as a portrait because I didn’t bother setting the type to “Document/Certificate”.

Does it matter? No, not really. At least not to anyone whose profession doesn’t involve data categorization (mine does). I cringe a little when I see the labels! But it doesn’t bother me enough to go back and change hundreds of images.

Removing photos from your Ancestry family tree

To remove a photo completely from your Ancestry tree, go to the Media Gallery in the Tree menu.

The delete button is on the right-hand side of the screen. This removes the photo from the Ancestry servers. It doesn’t touch your local file.

You can’t remove photos from the media gallery associated with a person profile, as it doesn’t have a delete button.

Removing or changing a profile photo in Ancestry trees

You can deselect the current profile photo from the same place where you set it (see the instructions at the top of the article). Just untick the menu item. This leaves the photo linked to the person, but not as the profile image.

To change to a different profile photo, just upload a new photo and go through the instructions at the top of the article.

If you’ve realized that you assigned the photo to the wrong person in your tree, you can deselect the photo from one person, and attach it to someone else in your tree. This is perhaps easier to follow in a video walkthrough – this one goes through a complete scenario.

What type of image file can you upload?

If you’ve taken the photo with your cell phone or any camera, the file format will upload fine to Ancestry. But you may have some old files in a less used format. If the file extension isn’t on the list below, you will need to convert it to one of these formats:

  • jpg
  • jpeg
  • png
  • tiff
  • bmp

Is there a size limit on images files?

Yes, the size limit is 15 MB. This is actually quite big for a photo! However, if you find yourself falling foul of the limit, you can take a few steps to reduce the size. My favorite online compression tool is tinypng, which is completely free and doesn’t need any registration or email.

Uploading photos to Ancestry from your iPhone

I don’t have an iPhone, so I’ll link to the instructions from this genealogy site. I can’t verify if it works, though. Drop me a comment below if it doesn’t work for you.

Uploading photos to Ancestry from your Android phone

I took a ton of headstone photos on my Android phone in the summer of 2017 and uploaded them to my main Ancestry tree. But I didn’t connect directly from my phone to the Ancestry website for several reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to use up my phone bandwidth. Secondly, I wanted copies of the photographs on my laptop.

If you’re working with single photos here and there, it’s easy to send them from your phone gallery to your personal email and download form there to your personal computer. If you’re working with many photos at a time, you can look into syncing an entire gallery folder to your home computer or an external drive.

Saving photos from other Ancestry trees

I was browsing pedigree pages of my matches recently, and my eye was caught by an unusual sight.

Do you see what it is? There is a profile photo displaying for the home person of the tree, alongside her name and dates. That never happens, right? Because our matches are living, we don’t see their details at the far left of the pedigree page.

Unfortunately, this lady died since the last time I looked at the tree. The administrator of her tree has entered her death details in her public tree, and hence I see her photograph and vital events. Suppose I wanted to copy her photograph into an entry in my family tree. There are two ways to go about this: a bad way and a good way.

Don’t save other people’s images and re-upload

Here’s the bad way. I’m a tech professional who doesn’t always read the software manual. So, this is how I first went about copying photographs – before I noticed that other Ancestry members on social media were expressing disapproval of this method.

You can use your browser to download any image on the web to your local computer. Just right-click the picture and click “Save image”. You’ll name it something appropriate, and then you can use the upload instructions detailed here to add to an entry in your family tree.

What’s the problem? Well, you’ve just lost the attribution trail. A pillar of genealogy research is source citation. You’ve broken any link to the source.

The other problem is that it is bad etiquette. The person who uploaded this photograph has kindly made it available to be viewed and copied. That person should receive credit. If you’re like I was, you may have no idea that there is an alternative way that keeps attribution and provides credit.

Use Ancestry’s save feature to save a photograph to your tree

To copy a photograph with attribution, you should click on the photograph within the other member’s family tree. You are given a link to “Save to my tree” which opens a dialog box.

You can now choose one of your own trees. Then use the little search box to find the person in your tree. The photo will enter the media gallery of your tree and will be associated with the person you specified. But the attribution is kept. Details and links to the original tree owner and the specific tree is kept with the image.

Looking for an e-book on building your Ancestry tree?

Check out our e-book on building your family tree with Ancestry.com. It’s available on Amazon now! Content includes:

  • Setting up your DNA-linked tree
  • Using your tree to find connections with DNA matches
  • Best practices for entering names, dates, and locations
  • Strategies for getting the most benefit from Hints
  • Tips for using powerful Search features

If you would like to watch some short video tutorials that walk through using Ancestry features step-by-step, browse through the DataMiningDNA YouTube channel.

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