Posted by Ancestry Team on February 11, 2009 in Website

We’ve added three new features to the MyCanvas publishing service that I think you’ll love. Many of you have asked for a way to keep track of which photos you’ve already used in a family history book or photo book. We agree that this is a pretty important feature ― especially if you’re working on multiple projects and can’t remember which photos you’ve used in which project ― so we’ve added little checkmarks to the image thumbnails to help you keep track.

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The checkmarks only apply to one project at a time, meaning that when you’re working on Project A, you’ll only see checkmarks for photos you’ve used in that project, not for photos you may have used in Project B. The checkmarks are continually updated as you work on your project. So if you place a photo on a page and then decide later to delete it, the checkmark will disappear from the thumbnail.

We’ve gotten quite a few requests for a calendar that starts in some month other than January. Most of these have come from procrastinators who didn’t finish their 2009 calendars in time for the New Year, but we’ve also heard from a few overachievers who want to get a jump on 2010. And I suppose there could be all kinds of reasons for starting a calendar at the beginning of the academic year or fiscal year instead of the official calendar year.

Whatever your motives, you can now pick the starting month for your calendar. On the “Make a Calendar” page, look for the drop-down menu right above the orange “Start working on your calendar” button.

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The third new feature is something nobody’s asked for, but once you start using it you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it. You can now pick border and background colors that exactly match a color in your photo.

Before we launched the magic color picker, you could either choose from 70 predefined colors that pop up when you click the Colors icon in the image toolbar:

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…or use the advanced, full-spectrum color palette.

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The advanced palette lets you choose among subtle gradations of color, which gives you a lot of flexibility.

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The only problem is that it sometimes takes several tries to find the right shade. Here’s where the color picker comes in handy. To access it, click the little eyedropper icon in the top right corner of the color palette box. Now click anywhere on your photo. The border will automatically adjust to match the color of that precise spot.

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In the screen shot above, I matched the border to a fuchsia flower. By moving the eyedropper down about half an inch, I can change the border to match a red flower instead.

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You can do the same thing with backgrounds. When you click on the Backgrounds tab, you’ll see a little color box near the bottom (where it says “or choose a background color”).

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Click on the box to access the color picker (as well as the basic and advanced color palettes). Then click anywhere on your photo to apply that color to the page background.

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The color picker works for text, too. You can use it to change font colors and also to change the background color of a text box. Try it…and then let me know what you think!


  1. For the past three+ years I have documented my family’s story sometimes reaching back to the fifteenth century via family tree maker and My research skills have improved, but what is most amazing is the steady and significant improvements in support of my research by family tree maker and My focus of late is on the quantum improvements in online publishing via mycanvas. As an intermediate level user of Illustrator and advanced user of Publisher,I find my canvas sophisticated and friendly. A lovely opportunity. I designed and purchased a 2009 custom calendar and I’m well on the way to a 150 page family history book. Thank you! Thank you. Thank you!

  2. Susan

    Just wanted to say that I have been working on my project for under a month and am totally absorbed. I have tried on several occasions to hear your January video but it has been freezing at the same point each time regardless of what I do. The message comes that my time with my server has expired – which is not true because I am able to continue working on my family history book. What I did watch and hear on the video was excellent and helped me immensely. I am so sorry I cannot hear more. Is this a problem that others have had, or is it just my computer?

  3. Stefanie Condie

    Susan, it sounds like the problem is likely with your local Internet service provider. You might have better if luck if you try watching the presentation at a time when the network is likely to be less congested (that is, when other people in your neighborhood are less likely to be using the Internet).

  4. Ginger

    I’m having trouble with an unwanted background that suddenly popped up on the page I was editing in a My Canvas project. I hit Undo repeatedly, but the only things that were affected were my editing changes. Worse yet, my entire book now has this background! I tried changing it to the one I’d previously had, but to no avail.
    Can you point me to a solution for this very big problem?

  5. Stefanie Condie

    Ginger, I don’t know what’s going on with your backgrounds, but I’m sure one of our customer service agents would be happy to help you find a solution. Please call 1-800-507-4612 between the hours of 10am and 6pm Eastern Time.

  6. Cheryl Low

    Glad to hear you are continuing to improve mycanvas. It gave me the incentive I need to start my family history book. There are 2 simple features I need. # One is a bracket that I can use on the timeline. The brackets you include can only be made be resized, not stretched. So if I want a bracket for the Great Depression that lasts 10 years vs. WWII that lasts 5 years, I have to make them different sizes to span the years (which doesn’t look professional). # Two is a new embellishment – plain black corners. I could only find black w/white dots. Thanks for the great job to date!

  7. Stefanie Condie

    Jean, at the present time you cannot change your calendar’s start month once the project has been created. So if you changed your mind about the start month you’d need to create a new project.

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