How to create a new tree on Ancestry

How do I create a new tree in Ancestry? This seems like it should be obvious, but it’s not. If you’ve been working for months on your main tree and decide you want to create a quick experimental tree for tentative research, you may be scratching your head looking for a big “create” button. It’s oddly hidden away from the main menus.

To start a new tree in Ancestry, click the Trees menu in the top bar. You will find the option to “Create and Manage Trees” at the end of the menu list. This takes you to a page to manage all your trees. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and the link to create a new tree is visible. Clicking the link will take you into a wizard that guides you through starting a tree with at least two persons.

Once you’ve entered the first person, you may wonder how you should save this new tree. Well, you can’t save it until you’ve added a second person e.g. a parent or spouse. Then, the Ancestry wizard opens a dialog box that allows to name and save the new tree.

There is another important option to consider here, the privacy settings. But let’s address the name first.

(If you’d like to see all this in action, the video at the end of this post walks through the process and the options available. If you prefer a textual approach, read on).

Don’t use a generic name for your tree

By default, Ancestry will name your tree using the surname of the first person you entered, the “home person”. So, it will be “[surname] family tree”. That’s not a bad choice although you may want to change it at this point. You can simply overwrite the box with your preferred name.

I advise not to use generic names such as “my tree”, as you will often end up creating more than one tree. If you’re just starting your genealogy journey with Ancestry, this may seem unusual. But an Ancestry tree is a powerful research tool, and you may want a temporary private tree as you chase down a speculative branch.

Tree names

Take a look at this excerpt from my tree management page. See how several start with “RESEARCH – “, followed by a family name? These are trees for which I haven’t verified all the evidence I need to be on sure ground. I don’t want to lead others astray if later decide the relationships are incorrect. So I set the tree to be private when I saved it.

Think about privacy settings when saving your tree

Remember that your new tree will be public unless you actively choose to set it to private here. The public option is set to true by default in the save dialog box. The setting is directly below the name of the tree.

Often you will want your tree to be public so you don’t need to take any further action before clicking the save button. However, be sure to uncheck the ticked box if you want a private tree.

Your new private tree is still searchable

Even if you set the tree to private, your tree will eventually enter the Ancestry search index unless you take further steps to stop this. What this means is that the basic details of deceased individuals may come up in the searches of other Ancestry members. Your tree will be shown to them as private, so they won’t be able to explore inside. However, they will be able to send you a message through the Ancestry system with their inquiries.

I usually set my research or experimental trees to be unsearchable. This can’t be done within the save dialog box. Instead, once you’ve saved your tree you must find the option to make the tree unsearchable. This is available on the privacy settings of the tree.

How to save your family tree on Ancestry

When you’re out of the new tree wizard, each action you take is usually saved instantly. There’s no “save” button, your actions have immediate affect. Bear in mind that there’s also no “undo” button!
You may experience occasional glitches where the screen hangs, or it seems that your change hasn’t taken effect. This is usually down to internet connection issues.

Finding your new tree on Ancestry

If you’re sitting down to renew your Ancestry research, it’s very easy to find a tree that you’ve been recently working. The “Trees” menu lists the most trees with most recent activity. And if you only have one tree, it’ll be there in the drop down items.

How many trees can you create on Ancestry.com?

Can you have more than one tree? Of course. I can’t actually find mention of an upper limit of the number of trees one account can create. I have twenty-seven at the moment. I think the answer is, you can have as many you like. At the time of writing this, there were 12 million family trees on Ancestry, so you’re probably not going to stretch them in a big way.

What’s the biggest tree you can build on Ancestry.com?

According to Ancestry itself, the biggest tree on Ancestry.com has 260,000 entries. There’s a challenge for you!

Looking for a full guide to 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.

A video walkthrough on creating a new tree on Ancestry

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