How To Split Your MyHeritage Tree: A Step-By-Step Tutorial

If you want to split your MyHeritage family tree, you won’t be able to do it easily on the MyHeritage website. You could copy people one-by-one into a new tree, but this would be very tedious.

This article is a step-by-step guide to separating a MyHeritage tree using free software.

A Common Scenario – Splitting A Combined Tree Of A Husband And Wife

Many people start out by creating a tree for themselves and their spouses. A combined tree for unrelated individuals may grow to be unwieldy to maintain. I see frequent questions on genealogy forums about how to separate a husband-and-wife tree.

This article works through the spouse scenario, because it usually requires more than just splitting off a single branch. But if all you want to do is separate a branch, then you’ll learn that too!

Take a look at the diagram below of a spouse tree. The diagonal line is where the split should happen. The goal is to produce two separate trees, but I’ll focus on the right hand side for this tutorial.

When the tree is separated, I don’t just want to have the direct line of the wife (highlighted in blue). The wife’s tree should also contain the collateral lines highlighted in yellow.

General Approach To Separating A MyHeritage Tree

You can split a MyHeritage tree with these steps:

  1. Export your MyHeritage tree to a GEDCOM file
  2. Import the GEDCOM file into family tree desktop software (several choices)
  3. Use family tree software to select and export a section of your tree to a new GEDCOM file
  4. Import the new GEDCOM file into a new MyHeritage tree

For our scenario, we don’t just want to have a new tree for one spouse. So we would repeat steps 3 and 4 for the other side of the tree.

Choice Of Desktop Software To Split A MyHeritage Tree

There are quite a few genealogy applications that will import/export a GEDCOM and let you edit it. I’m going to show you how to split your tree using two different desktop applications.

Both versions that I use for this exercise are free: Family Tree Builder and RootsMagic Esssentials.                                                           

MyHeritage Family Tree Builder

An obvious choice for MyHeritage users is the free MyHeritage Family Tree Builder (FTB).

Family Tree Builder has versions for Windows and Mac. You can download the install with this link.

RootsMagic Essentials

RootsMagic has a free and paid version of their genealogy software. You can split your MyHeritage tree using the free version – RootsMagic Essentials

You can download the install with this link.

Step 1: Export Your MyHeritage Tree To A GEDCOM File

GEDCOM files are a way of transferring your tree between different genealogy websites and software.

We have a separate article with a step-by-step guide to exporting your MyHeritage tree to GEDCOM.

Step 2: Import The GEDCOM File Into Your Desktop Application

The only difference between the two applications is how to launch the import feature that allows you select the file you have just exported from MyHeritage.

How To Import A GEDCOM File Into MyHeritage Family Tree Builder

  1. Expand the File drop-down menu and click on “Import GEDCOM”.
  2. Browse fo the exported GEDCOM file
  3. The import wizard will present you with several options – you can keep the defaults
  4. Provide a name for the project – follow how you usually name your family trees

How To Import A GEDCOM File Into RootsMagic Essentials

  1. Expand the File drop-down menu and click on “Import”.
  2. Choose the GEDCOM option (the last one in the list).
  3. Choose to Create A New Database from this file
  4. Provide a name for the database – follow how you usually name your family trees

Step 3: Select The Subset Of People You Want In A Separated Tree

This is the slightly tricky step, particularly if you want multiple branches.

Both applications let you choose people from a list of everyone in the family tree. You could click and select a few people individually, but it would be a dreary chore when splitting a large tree.

Instead, you will be able to select a “starting” individual and choose whether you also want their ancestors, their descendants, with or without all spouses etc.

The starting point and options you choose will depend on your scenario.

I’ll split out the next two sections – one is for Family Tree Builder and one is when using RootsMagic Essentials.

Step 3 (a): How To Export A Section Of A Family Tree Using Family Tree Builder

  • Choose “Export GEDCOM” from the File drop-down menu.
  • Provide A File Name
  • When the Content Screen opens, toggle to the option ofInclude only selected people”.

A pop-up screen appears with a list of every person in the tree.

  • Select a person as a starting point

In our scenario, I want the entire tree of one spouse. With Family Tree Builder (unlike RootsMagic), I have to come at this from the other end of the tree.

Let me use the MyHeritage horizontal view as a guide here. This is part of the pedigree line for the wife. It doesn’t show the sister of her maternal grandmother – who also has a daughter and son-in law.

Family Tree Builder asks you to select one person at a time. So to include both the direct line and the branch of a great-aunt, I need to start from a great-grandparent and include all their descendants (with spouses).

In my scenario, I choose Aaron Reilly (I could have chosen his wife).

  • Choose the options for the starting person

Descendants and spouses are included as part of the default options. Which happens to be exactly what I want.

If you prefer to remove spouses or include ancestors, then click the Edit button to get to the screen shown below.

  • Select the next person as a new starting point

At this point, I’ve selected one great-grandparent and included spouses and descendants. But I don’t have the other set(s) of great-grandparents in my net.

When I return to the Selection screen, I’ll click the Add button to select another great-grandparent.

And so on, and so forth until I’ve covered all lines.

  • Export the selection to GEDCOM

Step 3 (b): How To Export A Section Of A Family Tree Using RootsMagic Essentials

Splitting spouses into two separate trees is actually easier with RootsMagic than with Family Tree Builder.

This is because RootsMagic has an option to select the “entire tree” of your target person.

The problem with the original tree is that selecting this option for either spouse will bring in..the entire tree with all relatives of both spouses. Because of the marriage relationship, of course.

But all you need to do is remove the marriage relationship – thus making two disconnected trees in one database.

In the picture below, I’ve right-clicked on the wife and am about to unlink her from her spouse.

When I’ve completed the separation,  I can crack on and export the first new tree.

  • Choose “Export” from the File drop-down menu.
  • Toggle the “people to export” option from “Everyone” to “Select from list”
  • Choose one of the separated spouses and click on “Mark group”

The drop-down list gives you lots of options. Because I want all the collateral lines, I am going to choose “Everyone in the highlighted person’s tree”.

This works because I removed the spousal relationship.

To check you’ve got what you want, scroll through the person list and see who has been ticked for inclusion by the choice you made.

  • Export the selection to GEDCOM

Step 4:  Import The New GEDCOM File To MyHeritage

I have another tutorial on importing a GEDCOM file to MyHeritage.

This will create a new family tree in your MyHeritage website to represent one of the spouses.

Step 5: Rinse And Repeat

Now I simply repeat the process for the other spouse.

More Articles And Tutorials?


Margaret created a family tree on a genealogy website in 2012. She purchased her first DNA kit in 2017. She created this website to share insights and how-to guides on DNA, genealogy, and family research.

4 thoughts on “How To Split Your MyHeritage Tree: A Step-By-Step Tutorial”

  1. Hello, thanks voor your instruction!
    I have installed FTB and succesfully selected a person plus ancestors. downloaded the GEDCOM and uploaded it into MyHeritage.
    But this does not get rid of these ancestors I wanted to get rid of. Also, the names of the people are not recognized in MyHseritage, only birth dates.
    How do I now delet a whole branch of ancestors ? I want to get rid of long ago ancestors in my family tree.

    • In FTB, choose the person as the starting point. The options let you then only include their descendants and not their ancestors. When you export and re-import (to a new tree), you shouldn’t have the ancestors.

  2. I’ve followed these instructions several times, but get booted out of FTB while it is processing my selection request. I’ve selected one person, edited to include only his ancestors, both including and not including spouses. (I’m trying to save one direct line from one of my ancestors way back to an extremely distant ancestor). I’ve search on my entire PC for the filename I gave the selection file, and for every GED file, and my selection file doesn’t show up. That I am booted out of the FTB program in the midst of processing things tells me it’s not doing anything.
    Any thoughts on why and what I should do? Thanks!


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