Posted by Ancestry Team on April 29, 2009 in Website

Last weekend I took my niece and nephew to the Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy, UT. Since it was my first visit, I was trying to view the exhibits in a systematic fashion to make sure we didn’t miss anything. In the special Amazon exhibit, I spent five minutes trying to get my little niece to look at a blue frog that didn’t interest her all (my nephew and I both thought it was the coolest thing we’d ever seen).

Eventually I decided to stop trying to control her experience and just let her explore the aquarium in her own haphazard, two-and-a-half-year-old way. I even bought her a pink stuffed Nemo that she picked out in the gift shop, although I’m pretty sure every clownfish I’ve seen in nature has been orange.

I hope that when you use MyCanvas to build a book or poster, you feel free to explore, experiment and express your own personality. Our product development team has tried to give you as much creative freedom as possible, so that you don’t feel like there’s a control-freak aunt standing over your shoulder telling you where to put your photos or what colors you can choose for a border, background or caption (or stuffed clownfish).

This month we’ve added several new features that give you more flexibility than ever. For the examples below, I created a page in our “Baby Girl Pink” photo book theme. These screen shots are a little grainy, but I think you’ll get the idea.

Although I’m using a photo book page to demonstrate the new features, they apply to family history books, posters and calendars as well. The only exception is the layout switching feature, which doesn’t work for family history book pages that require data from your tree. But if you have photo layout pages or text layout pages in your family history book, you can use layout switching for those pages.

Our new layout switching feature lets you easily change the layout of an existing page. Go to the Layouts tab in the left panel to see the available options. In the top part of the Layouts tab, you’ll see the basic layouts that aren’t associated with a particular theme. In the bottom part, you can view the layouts for a particular theme. Use the drop-down menu to narrow down the options according to the number of photos you want to include on the page. For book pages, there are also a few text-only layouts.

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By hovering over page thumbnails in the Layouts tab, I can see how this page would look if I applied a different layout.

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When I find the layout I like best, I just left click on the thumbnail to apply the layout to my page.

What if I want to swap these two photos so that the one on the left is in the right image box and vice-versa? Instead of finding the photo thumbnails and reapplying them to the page, I can use our new photo swapping tool to make the switch. When you’re on a page with two or more photos and you select one of the photos, you’ll see an icon in the top right corner with an arrow and two little boxes.

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Click on that icon, hold down your left mouse key and then drag and drop the photo into the other image box.

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When you release the cursor, the two photos will have switched places.

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You can do the same thing with text, too. Click on any text box. Then click on the text swapping icon (which looks just like the photo swapping icon) in the top right corner of the text box.

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Hold down your left mouse key and drop the text box into another text box on the page.

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The caption from Text Box A will appear in Text Box B, but with all of the formatting attributes (font size, etc.) of the original caption in Text Box B.

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The last feature I want to show you is our new panning tool, which lets you drag a photo within an image box. You’ve always been able to pan in MyCanvas, but we’ve made it easier and more intuitive. Whenever you click on an image that’s pannable, you’ll see a compass-like icon in the middle of the image.

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What I mean by “pannable” is that the original photo has been cropped. Either part of the photo got cropped off when you dropped it into an image box or you manually cropped the photo after you placed it on the page. Panning lets you adjust which parts of the photo show up and which parts get cropped off. Place your cursor in the circle, hold down your left mouse key and drag the photo within the image box.

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Once you start panning, you’ll see the whole photo. The parts that are cropped out will be transparent. When you’re done panning, just release your mouse key.

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By the way, we recently added more than 2,000 new K&Co. scrapbook embellishments, as well as a new collection of masks with brushed edges. To check out our new features and content, go to


  1. Dean Shelby

    Ms Condie,
    Your information (article) on the new editing tools is strong and when used should make life easier for those most creative souls who want to get it just right. Thanks to the IT people for getting it implemented.

    Question: I need general assistance on the “pro” layouts for a family tree album. Your “Matt” in customer service has been really great but I have bungled around exploring ways to improve my presentation and the different chapters or elements to include in the album. When you make up a tutorial could there be one that better represents a Family Tree Album?
    Regards, Dean Shelby

    PS you are welcome to view my album (Third Ed, Revised)and see the style.

  2. Linda Wiley

    I am glad you are having a good time with My Canvas because I can nolonger getinto my projects. I have asked Ancestry for help and heard nothing from them and cannot find a way to reach My Canvas. I recently received a photo book from them(it was 99 pages)and wonderful! I also had other projects underway but now cannot get back into them. Any ideas??? Has anyone else had this problem?

  3. Joyce Walth

    Great article! I have been working on a book and found these features by “playing”. Thanks for the great embellishments. Those are one reason I chose to go with My Canvas over other sites. I am working on an 11″x8.5″ book, but would have liked a 12″x12″ option to match other scrapbooks I have. I like bigger pictures. I have been trying to decide if i would like the 14″x11″ or not.

  4. To Joyce Walth,
    If you are making a scrapbook, it looks great when you glue pages that are not 12″ X 12″ to a sheet of 12″ X 12″ paper, but if enough people ask about it perhaps the company will make 12″ by 12″ pages like so many companies such as Creative Memories already do.

  5. Stefanie Condie

    Linda, for technical support please call 1-800-507-4612. Our customer service agents are available from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday.

  6. Stefanie Condie

    Joyce and Mary, we are planning to offer a larger square format, either 10″x10″ or 12″x12″. Based on initial customer feedback it looks like there is more demand for the 12″x12″ size. I’m not sure how soon the new size will be available…probably in the summer.

  7. Pam Libby

    Hi, I agree that you should use the 12×12 format. People who are used to scrapbooking use this format because you can get so much more on it. If you have an especially large tree, it would be great if the fonts could stay the same, but since the page would be larger, you could put more family on the page.

    Also people who are used to scrapebooking might like it if they could have the printed sheets, but put them in their own albums so that they could add treasured pieces of fabric once owned by their family member or a lock of hair or other personalized decorations. You would still make a lot of money without the album covers because it would appeal to more people and they would buy more pages for friends and family. Most importantly it would allow for more experimentation about what one wanted to include in their permanent albums. I’m sure everyone who started scrapbooking their albums would eventually want a permanent, finished, bound version. I know I would.

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