Posted by on 2 February 2012 in Site Features


Record images are the foundation of your family history, and we want to create a rich viewing experience that will bring these historical documents to life. The new Interactive Image Viewer (currently in beta) includes interactive tools to help you view and interpret the information on the record as well as navigation controls that make it easy to focus on the part of the image you’re interested in. The Interactive Image Viewer is a work in progress; we are still adding new features and functionality. We value your suggestions for improving the viewer.

Where can you try it out?

This beta viewer is available for the following censuses:

It will be available for the 1930 US Federal Census in the near future.

You can access the interactive image beta viewer from the record page by clicking on “View Interactive Image (BETA).”

How can you send feedback?

Please use the “Send comments” link at the top of the viewer.

What’s new?

Family Highlights

Highlights help you find people quickly by automatically highlighting the entire household. This is most useful when there are multiple families on one image.

  • Yellow highlight – Whether you selected someone from your tree or searched for someone new, that person is highlighted in yellow when viewing his or her record in the Interactive Image Viewer.
  • Green highlight – If the person that is highlighted in yellow is in a household that has any other members, the other members of the household are highlighted in green.
  • Orange highlight – An orange highlight is placed on any row that is not already highlighted in green or yellow when your mouse hovers over that row. This will only show up when there are multiple families in a household.

Informative Tips

By hovering over various cells, you can see a transcription of that cell and learn more about the facts in the record. Simply hover your mouse over an element of the record and a text tip appears.

Name Label Overlay

When you zoom in on an image, names labels will appear on the left side of the viewer so you can see exactly whose information you’re viewing.

Moving the image

The new image viewer has many features that are similar to the Advanced Image Viewer many of you are already using. We’ve also added some new features.

  • Click and Drag – Click anywhere on the image, hold down your mouse button, and drag your mouse in the direction that you wish to pan the image.
  • Onscreen Controls – Use the arrow buttons to pan the image left, right, up, or down. Additionally, you can use the magnifying glass buttons at the top of the onscreen controls or the slider at the bottom of the onscreen controls to zoom in or out of the image.
  • Keyboard Controls – Use the arrow keys on your keyboard. This will enable you to pan left, right, up, or down. You may also use the “+” or “-” keys on your keyboard to zoom in or out. Press the “Home” key to move your current view to the far left of the current image. Press the “End” key to move your current view to the far right of the current image. Press the “Page Up” key to move to the top of the current image. Press the “Page Down” key to move to the bottom of the current image.
  • Mouse Wheel Zoom – If your mouse has a mouse wheel, you can use it to zoom in or out of the image.

We have also added some new options under the “Image” menu (below the Save button).

  • Rotate Clockwise and Rotate Counter-clockwise – These menu items will rotate the image by 90 degrees in either the clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
  • Flip Horizontally and Flip Vertically – These menu items will flip the image.
  • Invert Colours – This option will reverse the colours of the image (black becomes white, white becomes black). In some cases, this will improve the readability of the image.
  • Increase and Decrease Contrast – Use the increase or decrease contrast menu items to improve the contrast on the image.

Actions Menu

Use the Actions menu to print, view record source, remove highlighting, and more. Please note that this interactive image viewer is still in beta and some of the features you may be used to seeing are not available yet.

Print – Print the image or the current view

  • View highlighting – By default, household highlights are displayed on the image. Select this menu item to disable household highlights.
  • View source – Select this menu item to open the source panel and learn which organisation provided the image.

What features are coming soon?

  • Index panel – See a transcription of the key fields underneath the image.
  • Change locations by browsing – Change the focus of your browsing by selecting a new location directly from the image browse path.
  • Improvements to save to tree – Saving to tree is available but the features which recognise whether you have come from a hint or if you have already saved this image are not implemented yet.
  • Comments and corrections – We will add the ability to provide comments and corrections soon. We value all of your additions to our records.
  • Sharing – Sharing the image via email, Facebook, or Twitter is coming soon.

Thank you for your input and suggestions on the beta version of the interactive image viewer. We will be making many updates to this viewer in the upcoming weeks to add more new features and the other “coming soon” features listed above.



This is so complicated and is likely to put people off and given the errors in the 1911 census transcriptions I would like to see ancestry to put their efforts into getting the census transcriptions right.

2 February 2012 at 7:54 pm

I have tried looking for Mary Gillette highlighted above but there is no Beta-view available, it is ironical that the image has two persons both of whom were wrongly transcribed!.

2 February 2012 at 8:01 pm
Annabel Reeves 

This feature is still in beta testing and some users might need to clear their cookies in order to see the “Interactive Image (BETA)” link. Please let us know if you still have difficulties accessing the Interactive Image Viewer and we’ll contact you via email. Many thanks.

3 February 2012 at 12:11 pm

I like the fact, when you zoom in on a column and you can know longer see each individuals name, that there is a computer generated list of all the names so you know which row is which person. A useful feature when you have numerous individuals on a page.

I don’t see anything in this release, I can say I don’t like or I won’t use.

Any plans on removing the hidden infirmity column in future census releases? FMP has removed it.

3 February 2012 at 1:24 pm

I have now found the Beta-version link.In regard to Gerald’s note about the infirmity column this restriction was an Information Commissioner’s Office instruction when the rest of the census was released by FMP on behalf of The National Archives (TNA)in advance of the 100-year release. It is unlikely that ancestry would have been given an unredacted version like FMP who were the chosen company to transcribe and release the information. In other words ancestry would need to get an updated version from TNA which would include the birth-places that were covered-up (wrongly) and not fully transcribed when they received the redacted copy from TNA.

Upon checking the information it is very disappointing that there are so many pieces of the Welsh census not transcribed and made available and the lack of information on this.

3 February 2012 at 4:57 pm

I am against this new Beta-version as it has the unaltered version, so when researchers have put in amendments then they are not reflected on the screen but on the previous index page. This means the information in the cell is wrong and I do not see why researchers should have to amend the information again and I am sure that with technology that it is possible to get the original transcription altered. As I have already mentioned I believe that it is pointless developing an old and out-of-date redacted version from The National Archives and not the completely-released version that went out on FMP last month.

3 February 2012 at 5:34 pm

David, I agree with you on the point of “amendments” (i.e. corrections made by users to Ancestry’s shoddy transcriptions!). These need to be made available to the viewer. Or, better still, Ancestry could abandon their arrogant “we are never wrong” attitude and correct the transcriptions themselves!

5 February 2012 at 6:49 pm