How To Export A GEDCOM From Geni

Geni offers five types of GEDCOM export, and each type includes a different set of your relatives. This article explains the differences, and which option to choose for what you want to achieve.

We also cover the limits on what you can export. And no, you can’t download the entire Geni World Tree!

How To Export Your Family Tree From Geni.com

Geni is a collaborative global tree. So the concept of “your family tee” doesn’t really exist on Geni.com – unless you haven’t been able to connect and merge any relative you have added to the site. This companion article on uploading your family tree to Geni goes into this in more detail.

My guess is that the most common file that people want is their pedigree and collateral lines. This would include yourself and your direct ancestor. By collateral lines, I mean branching out to include the siblings of your ancestors, their spouse, and their descendants.

For this, you take one of the top two choices on the Export page: Blood Relatives or DNA Relatives. The difference is whether you want to include adopted relatives.

Do You Want Adopted Relatives Included in the Geni GEDCOM file?

If you want to include adopted relatives, then choose “Blood Relatives”. If you want to exclude them, then choose “DNA Relatives“.

Geni.com has picked strange terminology here. “DNA Relatives” is a clear description, but “Blood” being the opposite? I don’t think this is correct usage, but I just consider it a Geni quirk.

Other Options For Export

The other export options are “Ancestors”, “Descendants”, and “Forest”. The next sections will go through each choice. But first, let’s look at the launching point (or focus) of your GEDCOM export.

Launching A GEDCOM Export That Starts With You

 If you want a GEDCOM with yourself as the base of the tree, then you can use the Research menu to open the GEDCOM management page.

There is a link in the Export section to launch an export from your tree profile.

You can also get to the same Export page from your tree profile – or any other profile. That’s how to start GEDCOMs from a different focus.

Launching a GEDCOM Export From Another Tree Profile in Geni

You need to open the full tree profile to get to the GEDCOM option. So if you’re working within your tree, click on the person’s entry and choose “View Profile” from the triple-dot drop-down.

The “Export GEDCOM” option is available from the Actions drop-down menu on the top right of the profile page.

Exporting With The Ancestors Option

The “Ancestors” option on the GEDCOM export page gives you the direct line of one tree profile.

These are great-grandparents and great-greats etc. You do not get the collateral lines. So your great-aunt, her spouse, and their children are not included.

Exporting With The Descendants Option

The Descendants option does not include spouses of descendants.

Suppose you launch an export from your great-great-grandfather and choose the Descendants option. The GEDCOM file will not include your great-grandmother and grandmother.

Exporting With The Forest Option

The simplest way to explain this is with an example:

Let’s say you launch a GEDCOM export from your own profile with the Forest option. Your great-aunt is included along with her spouse. Her husband’s parents are included. If one of these in-laws was married twice, then both spouses are included.

So, this is a fairly wide network and may include thousands of tree profiles. Geni states that this type of export could take several days to complete.

Make Sure You are Comfortable With The Privacy Option

If you intend to import your GEDCOM file into other online sites, you may want to choose the privacy option at the bottom of the export page. However, Geni has a different concept of privacy to some other sites. Some sites will replace living people with empty placeholders. Some sites will have more details in the tree profile, but replace the names with something like “Living”.

I tested the Geni export on my own tree and was surprised to see my full name in the file. The difference was that Geni had excluded date of birth, place of birth, and my email address. But having full names in the file doesn’t meet my own criteria for privacy when I’m sharing GEDCOM files.

How Many People Can Be Exported To GEDCOM?

The maximum number of tree profiles in the GEDCOM file depends on whether you have free or paid membership.

Free membership caps out at five thousand people.

The paid option gives you a maximum of fifty thousand people.

Who Can You Include In A Geni Export To GEDCOM

I said in the opening that you can’t export the entire World Family Tree using the Geni export tool. That of course would far exceed the maximum number of people allowed in a file.

But it would also break other rules about who you can include in your export. There are two types of profile where you can launch an export to GEDCOM.

  • tree profiles that you have added to Geni.com
  • tree profiles that you are connected with as immediate family

So you can’t search for George Washington and export all his descendants. Unless you are one of his immediate family!

Location Problems With Geni GEDCOM Files

Geni deals with locations in a different way to some other genealogy sites and software.

A GEDCOM file can have both a Place tag (PLAC) and an Address tag (ADDR). The ADDR tag is supposed to be for house numbers, postcodes, and other specific mailing details. The PLAC tag should hold higher-level location details.

Geni may stick higher-level locations into the ADDR tag. It may also put cemetery names into the PLAC tag, which is not for that purpose. This may cause problems when importing a Geni GEDCOM into other software. There is an interesting thread about it on a genealogy forum.

If you’re familiar with Python, you may want to try the suggested script for cleaning up your file.

Other Articles and Tutorials About Geni

If you’re new to Geni, then this article on the Geni Global Family Tree gives you important background about using the website.

This article is about importing a GEDCOM file into Geni.com.

And you may enjoy fishing for famous relatives on Geni.com and other websites.

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