Posted by Ancestry Team on March 13, 2008 in Website

Family photos are the heart and soul of any AncestryPress project, and we’ve just added several new features that make it easier to showcase your photos through a custom book or poster.

Picasa and SmugMug

AncestryPress is now integrated with Picasa and SmugMug, two leading photo sharing web sites. So if you’ve uploaded your vacation photos to Picasa, for example, you can import your Picasa web album into AncestryPress and use those photos in your AncestryPress project.

Within AncestryPress you’ll see four main content trays on the left side of the screen: My Photos, Online Photos, Other Content and Ancestry Records. If you click My Photos, you’ll see all the images you’ve uploaded directly to AncestryPress. If you click Online Photos, you’ll see any images you’ve imported from Picasa or SmugMug.

To import your photos, go to the Online Photos section and click the “Import Photos” button. A dialogue box will appear. Select the correct photo site (Picasa or SmugMug) and then enter your user name and password for that site. Hit the “OK” button to start the import process.

AncestryPress will import all of your Picasa or SmugMug albums at the same time. In the Online Photos directory, each album will appear in a separate folder. If you are a Picasa user, please note that AncestryPress will only import photos from your web albums; it cannot access any photos that you’ve saved in Picasa’s desktop program.

Let’s say you’ve imported all the photos in your SmugMug albums into AncestryPres, and then a couple of weeks later you upload a new batch of photos to SmugMug. To import those new photos into AncestryPress, just go to the Online Photos section and hit the “Refresh” button.

Image Boxes

Our new image box feature lets you create your own page layout templates. Let’s say you get a page laid out just how you like it, but then you come back later and decide to swap out a photo. Instead of cropping, resizing and rotating the new image so that it sits in exactly the same spot as the old image, you can just drag the new image over and place it on top of the old one. The new image will automatically adjust to fill up the “box” — the space defined by the old image.

Here’s a really simple example. Let’s say I like the layout of this particular page, but I want to use a different photo.


Click to enlarge image

This photo has a portrait aspect ratio (it’s taller than it is wide), but the new photo is landscape (wider than it is tall). Instead of cropping and resizing the new photo, I just place it on top of the old one. Note that when you drag an image over an image box, a blue outline appears.


Click to enlarge image

Anything outside the box automatically gets cut off. In this case, I don’t want to cut off my dad’s elbow, so I move the new photo to right a bit.


Click to enlarge image

When I’m satisfied with how the image inside the box looks, I just click somewhere else on the page (anywhere besides where the images are) and the photo replacement is complete.


Click to enlarge image

Of course, you can always delete the old photo and start fresh with a new photo, using the image editing tools to create the look you want. But if you like the layout of a page and you just want to swap out a photo without too much fuss — or if you’ve created a photo collage page that you want to use as a template for other pages — image boxes are a handy tool that will save you some time.

You don’t need to do anything to turn this feature on: any photo that you place on a page will automatically function as an image box when you put a new photo on top of it. If you replace a photo by accident, no worries — just hit the Undo icon at the top of the screen to get the original photo back.

We’ve also added image boxes to the templates for family trees, family group sheets and timelines. When you create a page using one of these templates, you’ll see gray boxes with the words, “PLACE IMAGE HERE.”

Here are a couple of examples:


Click to enlarge image


Click to enlarge image

If you have a photo of one of the people on the page, just place it on top of the image box and it will automatically adjust to the correct dimensions. If you don’t have a photo for a particular person, you can just ignore the image box — it will not show up when you print the page.

Keep in mind that you can still place photos on a page using the same free-form process that you’re used to in AncestryPress. The new image box feature does not replace or change any of the image editing tools — it’s just another option that’s useful in some situations. I’d love to hear your feedback on this particular feature. Do you find it helpful? Is it easy to use? (Note: please read my response to Joycelyn’s comment below for more detail about how the image boxes work.)

You can also use text boxes as templates in a very similar way. When you drop a new block of text into an existing text box, the new text automatically takes on the formatting and position of the original text box.

Image Size Meter

Another nifty feature that makes it easy to work with images is our new size meter. As you scale an image up or down, the meter adjusts to tell you the exact height and width of the image — in inches — at any point in time. To see the size of the image, just click on the bottom left corner of the image or click and hold one of the crop icons (the little boxes that appear on each side of the image when the image is highlighted).


Click to enlarge image

If you click on an image and continue to hold down the mouse key, you’ll see another meter that tells you the exact position of the image relative to the left side of the page (the first number you see) and the top of the page (the second number). To see the angle of the image, just click and hold the Rotate icon (the swirly arrow).

We’ll be adding lots of new features just in time for Mother’s Day, so be sure to check back in a couple of weeks to see what’s new!

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NOTE: AncestryPress is now MyCanvas

In October 2008, AncestryPress was relaunched under the name MyCanvas. It is still a free, online software program provided by For current information about products and features, please see my more recent blog posts.


  1. I am working on my fourth book and am distressed that the photo template idea is not working. If I even get close to another picture, it grabs it and the first picture is gone. Why is that? That means that I cannot overlap pictures that I want to as I have done in the past. Please correct this flaw and help up with this.

  2. Stefanie Condie

    Joycelyn, thanks for your comment. I realized that my explanation wasn’t clear enough. The image boxes don’t actually grab pictures and pull them in. When you are dragging a photo from a content tray onto a page and your cursor (the little hand) passes over an existing image, you’ll see a blue outline around the existing image. If you let go of the new photo at that point, it will replace the image in the highlighted box. If you don’t want to drop the photo into an existing image box, release it in a place where the cursor is not over another image. Once you’ve placed an image on a page, you can move it wherever you want and make it overlap other images. In that case you won’t see the blue outline. It’s only when you’re dragging an image from a content tray onto the page that you have to be careful about where you put it.

  3. Liz Castro

    Are you planning on adding integration with Flickr? I’ve got all my genealogy photos there and it would be great not to have to copy them to multiple places.

    Also, why not just let me access a set/album or two. I’ve got thousands of photos on Flickr and wouldn’t want to have to copy them all to Ancestry; most of them are not genealogy related.


  4. Judy Taylor

    I’m holding off printing my book in the hopes of some additional backgrounds. I’d especially like some Americana such as early century farms, old cars, horse drawn buggies downtown streets, antique toys, the old west, American Indians. How about some national parks ike Mt Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Zion. Maybe some more solids in earth tones.

  5. I am new to the ancestry process and an having trouble matching a family member in the right order. There are family trees that are using the incorrect information. Should I continue to look or use the information I have at this time as a source to keep trying.

  6. in answer to viola

    only add the info that you know to be correct to your tree if you are unsure contact the person showing the info. if you know for sure that information is incorrect contact the person saying something along the line of
    ‘ i see you have a tree that has john doe he was my ggfather i would be interested in comparing notes’ if the person gets back to you and you are very sure of your sorce AND from the email you feel ok about the contact then say ‘ as it happens i have his birth cert which shows that he was born 23 of may can you tell me what your sorce is so we can be sure we are talking about the same person’give a little info at first not to much then when your are very sure of the contact then give other info.

    but i should warn you now. DO NOT trust any info what so ever from


    as this is a program produced by ancestry which is nothing more than a useless bit of junk that takes one or more trees which are submited by other ancestry users and then the program amalgimates the trees in to one and all that is needed for the program to do this is an aproxemet year on any one field and an almost identical name and the program will decide that thay are the same person. it does not even matter if one lives in america and the other in england the two trees are then merged into one. the program did that with two of mine and i found that one of the people in my tree was sudenly born in the usa christened in england a couple of years late then married in england and a couple of months later married in america had a child in america and then one in england in the same year then died in america then found in a census after his death in england. all of this was a load of cods wollop as we say here in england. my relative was born christened married and died all in england and never in his life in america. the program as i said done something similar to a second relative which has now been spread around as fact meaning i have had to contact each and every one showing the wrong info.

    (not the world family tree entries as that is a difrent data base which is fairly reliable.)


    having said all this the records here on ancestry are good and the contacts in the member and world trees are normally willing to help just check the sorce of the info with your contacts.


  7. Linda Rowland

    I used to be able to make columns of the text that I imported from My Ancestry but find it is no longer possible due to the new text boxes! I have a Mac; your instructions are for PC mouse clicking. I am frustrated to tears trying to finish what i started before your so-called “improvements” with text boxes. Could you please offer some assistance to the Mac User!
    Thank you.

  8. John Kostick

    I just love the site and the ablity to control my own tree. But I have been uploading many family photos as I have been gathering them from family members. I would now like to be able to arrange them in date order as the apper on the website.

  9. Carole Malin

    I’ve been working on a book for quite awhile with a lot of success. Just recently I’ve been having trouble uploading pictures. I’ve uploaded scads of pictures already but now even though it says on the screen that the pictures have uploaded successfully they don’t appear in the side bar. What am I doing wrong? Also I’d love to have state flags available as well as some additional backgrounds. Love the site!

  10. I have never printed a book before. I tried my first page, but when I add my pictures the descriptions, locations, and dates do not appear. Do I have to add these all again manually?

  11. I have just completed my book, well done Ancestry I am really pleased and overwhelmed at the quality and cant thank you enough for all the effort on your behalf, I would like to make a suggestion regarding the backdrop pages which I think really enhance the pages, is there any chance that you could do more for england, I think it would be better to use countryside pictures rather than pictures of london which does not represennt any other part of the uk, its a bit like using New York to represent all of America, although you can still incorporate the union flag alongside the st George, thanks again Ancestry

  12. Judy Taylor

    OK, I’m frustrated with the new photo upload feature on my ancestrypress project.

    I love it that you’ve made it possible for me to create separate albums to keep my photos separate for different projects.

    BUT, the upload does not work! I create the album and select the photos to upload from my computer. It shows it working and then pops back to the select screen and nothing uploads. It may add 1 or 2 of the photos I selected, or it may add none of them.

    Is there something I’m doing wrong? It was so easy before.

  13. Edward Monroe

    I absolutely hate the changes you made to the photo add section. You can no longer delete photos that have been added to the side bar. Please, please go to the way it was. This new feature is a nightmare and takes twice as long and has many more steps. Old saying is “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it”. It was not broken so please fix it back.

  14. Kathleen Nunnally

    I have so many photos uploaded to “My Photos” on ancestry press that the bottom of the scroll bar has disappeared, so I cannot get the the final pictures. Also, it is extremely frustrating that I cannot delete the pics I don’t need anymore. Reducing the # of pics I believe would make the scroll bar reappear. How do I delete photos from “My Photos”? Thanks for any help!

  15. I am getting my feet wet with by experimenting with the history books. I chose a standard 4 generation book. When it put in the pictures the 3rd generation grandparents heads were chopped off.
    Can you explain why and how to correct that ?

    Also I would like to have a 4 generation DESCENDANT poster. How do I go about making one ?

  16. patricialgrant1949

    Hi is there a way you can turn the pictures around with out the faces looking long?
    Patricia Grant

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