Upload a GEDCOM File to Ancestry – An Illustrated Guide

You can upload your family tree into Ancestry using a GEDCOM file from other genealogy websites or software. This article gives you the choice of a video walkthrough or a pictorial guide.

You’ll also find answers to common questions about tree defaults, file limits, and photo information.

A Video Walkthrough

YouTube player

A Pictorial Guide On How To Upload A GEDCOM File To Ancestry

To upload a GEDCOM file to Ancestry:

1. Expand the Trees menu and choose “Create & Manage Trees”

The “Create & Manage Trees” item is at the end of the Trees menu.

2. Click the “Upload” link at the bottom of the page

Scroll down to the end of the Tree Management page to find the link to “Upload a GEDCOM file”.

3. Use “Choose file” to browse your local machine

4. (Optional) Change the default name provided

Ancestry will name your family tree using the file name of the GEDCOM. You can overwrite the default name before the import.

You can also change the name of the tree after the import. Use the Tree Settings page to change the name at any time.

5. (Optional) Make your tree private

By default, your imported tree will be public. This means that other Ancestry members can view the details of deceased people in the tree.

You can set the tree to private status before import by unticking the selected checkbox on the import page. You can also set the tree to private status after you’ve imported the tree.

If you’re not sure about the implications of the default option of a public searchable tree,

How Long Does A GEDCOM File Take to Import Into Ancestry?

A small GEDCOM file will take under a minute to upload and complete processing into the Ancestry website. A larger tree may take longer.

Ancestry provides a progress bar at the top of the page, but you don’t need to stick around until it finishes. You can open other Ancestry pages (or any browser page) while the processing continues.

Can A GEDCOM File Merge Into An Existing Tree In Ancestry?

You may be wondering if you can import a GEDCOM file into an existing family tree in Ancestry.

People sometimes ask on the genealogy forums if they can extend their tree by merging with a GEDCOM file.

Ancestry always imports a GEDCOM file as a new tree. You cannot use the upload process as a way of merging or extending a tree.

The Ancestry.com support pages advise you to import the GEDCOM and manually copy individuals from one tree to another. But you may have other options using 3rd party software.

Twile is free software that tries to merge multiple GEDCOM files into one family tree. RootsMagic and Family Tree Maker are commercial software that will also attempt to merge GEDCOM files.

I can’t recommend any of these options, because I haven’t tried these features. I’d be too concerned about having a mess of duplicates to clean up afterwards.

If you do give them a go, I advise that you don’t delete the tree you intend to “merge” or replace until you are completely sure that the new version is correct.

Is There A File Size Limit When Uploading GEDCOM Files to Ancestry?

You cannot upload a GEDCOM file to Ancestry that is larger than 75 MB.

My largest tree isn’t close to being 1 MB when in a GEDCOM file. Most people would be hard-pressed to build a GEDCOM tree that was anywhere close to 75 MB.

Remember that GEDCOM files are text files. Therefore, they do not contain photos or images.

How Does Ancestry Import Photo Information In GEDCOM Files?

GEDCOM files do not contain photos, but they may have information about photos and images.

Here is an example from a GEDCOM file that I exported from MyHeritage. The tree entry has a profile photo.

FILE https://www.myheritageimages.com/R/storage/site431/files/50/00/02/52_54s6ffe9z.jpg

What you’re seeing here is a URL link to a JPEG image file on a MyHeritage website. So, what happens when this GEDCOM file is uploaded to Ancestry?

The Ancestry website can’t reach over to MyHeritage and grab the photo for your gallery. The URL also does not get added as a web link or entered as a Note to your tree.

You will have to upload any photos or other media after you’ve imported the GEDCOM file.

GEDCOM To Spreadsheet Conversion!

Would you like to convert your GEDCOM to a spreadsheet with every person in your family tree?

Check out our conversion service for the full range of features at a low price.

Our E-Book On Building Your Tree on Ancestry

Check out our e-book on building your family tree with Ancestry.com. Available on Amazon at a budget price!

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.

6 thoughts on “Upload a GEDCOM File to Ancestry – An Illustrated Guide”

  1. I’ve followed the instructions to the letter but I keep getting failure notices. I’m trying to import a GEDcom file of my Find My Past tree to Ancestry. It doesn’t give a reason for failure to upload so I’m at a loss. Any ideas? Thanks.

    • I just did a quick test with my FMP tree and it worked – that doesn’t help you except to say there isn’t a general problem.

      When you open the file with notepad, do you see these lines at the top?
      0 HEAD
      2 NAME Findmypast Family Tree
      2 VERS 2.0

      If you don’t, then its not a valid GEDCOM file. If you do, then something else is wrong.

      If it’s not a huge file (that can’t be emailed), I’d be happy to take a look at it if you emailed it as an attachment to support@dataminingdna.com


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