Posted by Laura Dansbury on December 11, 2009 in Site Features

Hello Everyone,

I think it is time for a quick review on saving images and records and using the shoebox.   I’ve seen some questions on where the shoebox is located and if you can save images to specific places on your computer or to a DVD.  So let’s review the saving methods on

Question: What is the Shoebox? Where do I find my Shoebox? How do I use it?

Answer: The Shoebox is a place to save links to records that are interesting to you.  Sometimes you find a record that might be the right one, but you want more time to evaluate it before you decide to attach it to a tree. You can save a link to the record in your Shoebox and come back to it later. Please note that you don’t actually save copies of the documents, you save links to the documents on If you want to save copies of the actual documents, follow the steps described in the questions below.

As shown in the example below, the Shoebox is located near the bottom of the home page.  If you have customized your homepage, your Shoebox might be somewhere else on the page, or you may need to add it back.  To add the Shoebox or to change its location on the home page, click the “Customize your homepage” link on the top right side of the home page.


Full information about the Shoebox is available in the support topics area of the Learning Center, which can be found in the navigation bar on the top of the home or search pages.

Question: Where is the save button on a record?  For a record page, what are the saving options? Can I save a record to my desktop?

Answer: The record page is displayed when you click on a search result.  It contains a summary transcription of some key fields from the actual record.  From the record page, there are 2 ways to save a link to the record:

  1. Click on a link in the “Page Tools” on the left side of the record page.
  2. Click on the large orange “Save” button located below the record details to display a pop-up containing the available options.


You can save a link to the record page to your tree or to your Shoebox.  However, the record page cannot be saved to your computer.  Instead, you can save the actual image by following the steps in the next question.

Question: Can I specify where I want to save an image? Can I save an image to my computer if I don’t use genealogy software? Can I save an image to my computer after I saved a link to it in my Shoebox?

Answer: You can save an image to your family tree, your computer, your Shoebox, or to all of these locations. An image can be saved to your computer multiple times.  You don’t need genealogy software to save an image or use it in a document, but if you have a genealogy program, you may be able to import the images you save from Ancestry into it.

When you are viewing an image, the Save button is located in the top right corner of the enhanced image page as shown:

Image viewer save button

When you click “Save”, you will see a pop-up showing all the available Save options.


Once you have saved an image, the area at the top of the image page will be updated to reflect your actions.  In the example below, I saved a link to the Laura Brett image to my Shoebox and to my family tree.


When you save an image to your computer, you can save it to your hard drive, thumb drive, or removable disk.  If you have a special folder on your computer where you save all the images you have in your genealogy software, you can save the image directly to that location.

Saving images and attaching links to records is a good practice to help you fill out the details about your ancestors’ lives. I find that going back to images that I looked at in the past gives me new clues when I change my search focus.  For example, I knew my grandfather was a chauffeur early in his career, but I didn’t know why he moved across the country.  His draft record stated his employment information in New Jersey. By reexamining his employer’s name on his draft record and searching for his employer’s family, I found a reason why he moved from New Jersey to Michigan.

Good luck with all of your searches!


Specific questions about errors or technical problems will be answered more quickly if you email or call the Customer Support Center.  Our phone number is available on the bottom of the homepage and on our Contact Support page.


  1. Ron Lankshear

    Sorry but I find the 3 options annoying. I do not keep an Ancestry Tree (maybe I should). Shoebox means opening the image again later and adding to bandwidth usage. I just want to want to Save it to my computer. Pleaase could there be 3 icons Tree, Shoebox, Save. Just like there is Share. Would make more sense

  2. Andy Hatchett

    Ron Re:# 1

    It seems to me they could at least get the wording on the popup correct. It mentions saving records to trees and shoeboxes and yet the blog makes it very clear that it is only links to those records that are saved.

    Wonder why the popup doesn’t make that clear??

  3. If I have more than one picture for a person, and I want to use each picture for a different event to display in my canvas how do I do that. For example: One picture is primary, but I have a wedding picture I would like to use in my canvas related tot he marriage date. is this possible

  4. BEE

    I don’t know if this is a “technical” question, but since I see no other appropriate place to ask these questions, I’ll ask it here. Why are “hints” showing up for someone with a different name from the person on the “overview”? Even if it’s a family member in the same household, it still means having to add it to “ignored” list.
    Also, all these unrelated “hints” and “connections” pop up like mushrooms after a rain, but documents, even those with an exact name, has to be “searched” for?

    difthat name? For example, two census for someone with one name appearing on the list for someone with a different

  5. BEE

    Sorry, ignore the last two half-sentences. There is a problem with this typing space. I can’t see the bottom of the area where I’m typing, and I have to do some acrobatics to find the “Submit comment” button.
    The point is, this seems to be a new “happening” with these “hints”.

  6. The system does not allow Shoebox records to be saved to someone in your tree. I did call about this and was told they would put in a request for a change to the system. This hasn’t happened. It is frustrating to have records in the shoebox I cannot link to someone in my tree.
    Can this be fixed?

  7. Virginia Dunham

    I agree with Ron Lankshear regarding having 3 separate icons for saving as opposed to the dropdown menue. Also, maybe the icons should read: save image to your computer; save as shortcut to your Ancestry tree; save as shortcut to your Ancestry shoebox. That might better clarify things.

  8. Michel Bryson

    I’ve tried all afternoon to save images to my hard drive. I tried on two different computers – Windows 7 and Windows Vista. In both cases, when I go to save the file I can see it in the Save box. But when I go to the folder, the files aren’t there. Even if I search the hard drive, they’re not found.

    I have also experienced problems with the new preview of the family tree and with the Ancestry toolbar in Windows 7 under IE 8.

    Do I need to wait until there’s another upgrade to get compatible with Windows 7 / IE 8?

    On another blog, someone suggested I use Firefox instead of IE 8. Is that necessary?

  9. Andy Hatchett

    IE 8 doesn’t appear to play nice with Ancestry. I also had problems saving until I switched to FF- haven’t had a problem since.

  10. David A. (Al) Doherty

    I’ve just printed off this blog to read when I get a chance, so it’s possible that this has been asked/covered already but here goes:

    I have an image in my shoebox that I found ages ago when flipping through one of the Ancestry files. If a Technical Rep from Ancestry wants to look at it, my profile name is the same as the letters prior to the “AT” sign in my email address. The image is dated 25 Aug 2009, and as you will see, it has no index reference data. Part of it is the birth record of one of my WALDRON ancestral family.

    Try as I might, I have not been able to get this image copied into my tree. I’d like to know how to do this, and make a comment that perhaps this is a capability that is necessary, connecting an image to its multiple indexing information screens. Also, as in this case, the capability to add in indexing information that doesn’t seem to be available that will be picked up in future.

    I know I’ve come across other images where I’ve noticed a second record on the image is a relative and it takes ages of searching (since there’s now no “real” “exact” search) to find the indexing info screen referencing that second person. I think to this point I have at least found those others I’m talking about, but I’ve never been able to connect the one image above and I’d like to know how to do it.

    Al Doherty

  11. Hello ya’ll,
    Thank you Laura Brett on the walk-thru of saving records and images! This was a great reminder 😉

    I understand the technical steps on “how to” but…

    (1)- I am interested in learning what logic others use when naming their “save as” files in regards to organizing/grouping/association of multiple collateral lines.

    (2)- Also please share your logic on how you choose what you name your media ‘categories’ when you assign them – in regards again to the grouping/association of surnames & multiple lines

    (3) I have looked thru Ancestry message boards to post my questions/experiences but I keep getting an “Invalid or Unauthroized Input has been detected” message and cannot post this letter. Thank your for time if you allow this message to appear in this weeks column!

    – I’m trying to figure the best set of guidelines to keep in mind during the category process to allow for a quick association among all the different collateral lines…I’m assuming that is the main purpose of categories. Having access to such a fast inventory check hopefully will help ideas “click” in my head when I compare photos to what I might be researching at any given moment… and maybe in the end I can stay on focus and create or maintain some type of a relavent research plan! LOl, or something like that… [NOTE* focus is the key word for me, hahahaha]

    So I spent most the month cleaning up my media files… dumb me had never before thought about the importance of having my media more organized… but I do now! LOL. Guess I didn’t focus on ‘organizing’ as I was too ill for so long and wanted to use my “energy” elsewhere. hahahah what an oxy-moran!

    Total media in my collection = 1769 images… so it’s been interesting. The “uncategorized” folder is now finally empty! Now if I can just find those other pictures that I know are still in there, unlinked and invisible to the “uncategorized” folder !

    Anywho, the task at hand became… to consistently renamed & group all images as:
    surname, first name, middle name – [wife of so & so; if female maiden name is in ( )].
    NOTE* I should have done this mass renaming before I installed 2010.

    NOTE* I have learned that it was not wise to…. (1) You should NOT just open your computer ‘documents’ folder and enter the “ftm media folder” in hopes of a mass clean-up with file renaming. It seems to break the links to your people. I’m so glad I had the forthought to experiment with only a couple of files before I figured that out. The safest way to do this media clean-up is from with-in the program itself.

    ALSO I learned that if an image is saved from the internet using ones browser of choice… the images were NOT visible in the media collection when you go in thru the ‘media’ button at the top of the tool bar. I found it BEST to save “said image” to a folder OUTSIDE of ftm. Than later you can go into the program and choose ‘add new media’ and than highlight an image, click ‘open’ and than choose use “copy this file to media folder for this tree and link it there”.

    Because ‘add new media’ window from a persons detail page is the only doorway that independant ‘browser saved images’ are visible. Don’t know why. That’s just what I have learned.

    Long story short…, I thought “browser saved images” added to the ftm media folder would end up in the ‘uncategorized’ area. but this is not so. It appears that the’uncategorized’ destination only happens when an image is dL’ed within the ftm program ‘search result’ merge window..

    I had looked within the 4 “group choices” that media is listed by and I couldnot find those “independant browser saved images” My work-around was to create an unrelated dummy person and go directly to ‘person’ tab and chose ‘add new media’ … only than thru this ‘add new media’ window did ‘ALL’ my images TRULY appear.

    Also for comparisons sake, While in the ‘add new media’ window I tried to do a ‘select all’ to see if I could get a total count of how many images are in there so I could compare it to how many images that the ‘media collection’ tally shows, but alas the ‘select all’ option does not give a tally count when you do it that way. I know there are more images in there (at least three dozen) than what the “media collection” tally shows [in the middle pane at bottom left corner]. So far I’d say it has taken almost a good two weeks to get a handle on the most proper method of sorting among other things.

    When renaming my census images I chose to label with: surname of head of the family, than census year, than census location, than wife’s name.
    ex: Warren, John Doe 1930 IL, Cook Co., Chicago Hghts, Dist.1 – Jane (DOE) Warren

    Sometimes it’s a challenge to not let the “save as” title get too long. By trying to keep a consistent surname association listed as the first word when I ‘save’ has helped greatly when I now browse files for a quick inventory check. They are no longer scattered here and there. Before I used to just name the photo what ever came to mind when I looked at it. What a mess that created. Guess I never tried to look in the media folder of earlier ftm versions… This 2010 program is really cool with really great ease of access. LOL, I feel like my brain is waking up.

    Now, about Categories……
    Seems like I have been assigning at least three and four categories to each image. ex: One image may be assigned (1)surname; (2) document type, ie: census or death, etc.
    (3) collateral surname if that person is several generations away with different married names
    (4) State name the person is most associated with ….
    (5) I have even made categories for each census year..

    Not sure my logic is going to pay off…I’m know categories will be a hugh advantage when I go to share/print stuff. I ended up choosing about nine surnames that I was most interested in. It’s been bit of a challenge for me to stay consistent in what categories to assign to these portrait photos of the cousins.

    actually, that is my main goal… to STAY FOCUSED… LOL, maybe I’m getting way all too complicated and will end up making another a mess in the end. I hope not 😉

    Now that I’ve written a book here thank your for bearing along with my thoughts. I hope I didn’t muddle along too badly in my writings. I look forward to reading responses & getting any new ideas or corrections from ya’ll. ~ with kind regards, Andrea

  12. Kent

    I have about 2000 images at my site and now have been forced to move copies to because there is virtually no means of organizing them by folders on Ancestry. If you link an image like a cemetery entrance to a living person other people can’t see it. If you even want to look through an image collection you must scroll page by page – you cannot do a FIND. With 2000 images this is a nightmare. I can’t say anything better about eh Shoebox. I am disappointed that such basic updates cannot be made.

  13. Andy Hatchett

    Andrea Re: # 12

    I let the file name act to catagorize all my images.

    My naming convention is:
    ID number- year-doc type

    25186-1830-cen would be the 1830 census for person 25186 in my database.

    This means when I look my images folder I see all of the images for person 25186 in chronological order.

    Makes things real easy to find and see what type images I’m missing.

  14. arlene miles

    I love the shoebox, however there should be a way to sort the entire list by name so records can be checked without having to go back and forth, what a waste of time.


  15. Andy Hatchett

    Arlene Re: #16

    I simply can’t understand why anyone would use the shoebox for anything.

    It has two great drawbacks.
    1). It only saved links- not documents or records.
    2). One must be online to use it.

    I’ve easily overcome both these problems.

    1). Created a folder on my desktop named “Shoebox”.
    2). Saved any records or documents that I wanted to look at later to that folder.
    3). After determining if the item is of actual use move that image to my folder where I keep images of source documents, add to my computer genealogy program, and add to my online tree.
    4). If I determine the item isn’t of any use I delete it from the shoebox folder.

    This allows me to use shoebox items offline, organize them by name, etc.

    And it doesn’t take much more time that just saving them to Ancestry’s shoebox.

  16. Laura Dansbury

    #6 You can save links to images to your tree from the enhanced image page. If you are looking at an image is that only available on an original image page, then you need to find the record page for that image. You will be able to save a link to the record to your tree.

    #13 The source information is not saved with the .jpg. You can copy and paste the source information to a file on your computer. If you save a link to a record to your tree, the source information is also saved.

  17. Judith

    I am thinking of purchasing the new FTM 2010, but need some assurance that the problems of the past issues aren’t repeated. Can I try it out? Also, I wanted to know if I can save photos onto m FTM directly, and not have them take up the space on ancestry. I forsee a day when I won’t have my photos available due to the limitations of space…

  18. Bettie Black

    Shoebox is a terrific feature and I have many records saved. Sometimes it is difficult to relocate a saved record, especially when working with many surnames. Would like to be able to have folders similar to your mailboxes that could be labeled. That way records could be sorted and easier to find.

  19. trudy Lyons

    I’m a new user, totally confused on how to locate peaple in my fathers family whom I never met. They probably dont know I and my sibings exist. I think I found his military records but now I’m stuck. Can someone take a few minutes to tell me how to move forward with very little information to begin with but I do have bits and peices. I feel like I was dropped off on a door step. For the more experienced,with a bit of time to share, Help please.

  20. BEE

    Trudy, if your father was born before 1930, find him on that census and add any siblings to your “tree”. If he wasn’t born yet, but you know his parent’s names, find them and add that to your “tree” along with all their siblings. Keep going back through the census adding all the names you find, but look carefully. One census can have one name, and another has a different name, even though it’s the same person – they’ll use their middle name on one, and first name on another. Find all the documents you can for each and every name, because everything is a “clue”, but it’s important to look at the actual document for information. Then you can check out “hints” to see if there is anything that matches with your information. It’s a a good place to find a possible maiden name, but don’t bother adding the “hints”. You can often find dates of birth and death when you find someone on the SSDI. Good luck with your search – it’s addictive!

  21. Rosemary Jones

    Ancestry’s various sites, (.com,, do not play well with Vista and IE8, particularly with saving images locally. Firefox has no problem whatsoever.

    I find the shoebox pretty much useless without having some way of at least sorting it into alphabetical order.

    Locally, my image files have names like:

    Brown Andrew John (1823) 1845 Marriage Index St Kilda

    This tells me that Andrew John Brown, born in 1823, can be found in the 1845 Marriage Index for St Kilda.

  22. Lois Kessler

    I am not sure the correct place to ask this question, but here goes. How do you keep you tree on your computer using Family Tree Maker in sync with your website on Thanks Lois

  23. Terry Britt

    Rosemary, I find that if I right click on the IE8 desktop icon and select “Run as Administrator” then click continue this will open IE8 and you will find that this will solve most of your problems.
    Happy Christmas. Terry

  24. Roni

    My question is the same as Lois, is there same way to synchronize FTM on the computer with the website.
    Does anybody else find that the search engine on the website will find data that the software search engine won’t. It has happened a few times to me. Which means that I have to check thru all the hints on the website as well just in case.

    Merry Xmas Roni

  25. Rod Benge

    When I receive hints, sometimes when I check out the hint and want to add it to my online tree, I get a message telling me I don’t have permission to modify this tree. What is up with that?

  26. Pam

    Andrea #12 – This is hitting the nail upon the head! How to consistently label & store media files for retreival purposes. Any Librarians out there?

    Andy #15 Great idea. I love the simplicity, but what do you do with the Photo’s or Census forms when they applied to multiple person, even multiple families. Not duplicate copies?

    Currently, I am using two systems: 1. the relative date [Death, Muster into service, date of draft card, marriage, birth] by YYYY-MM-DD Name – Event. “2002-04-13 Leonard SMIRTH – Headstone.jpg”
    In the case of Census, “1910 Cen – Ralph & Mary Snyder LEWIS + 3 & 4th nxt dr.jpg”

    This is not simple nor does it suit every type of document or media but it does give me a timeline. However, when you need to chase down a piece of media, it requires a close guesstimate of the date of the event.

    What do others do?

  27. Andy Hatchett

    Pam Re: #28

    Why not duplicate copies?

    With the new TB hard drives storage is cheaper than it has ever been. I can remember when a 5Meg hard drive was over $500.

    Duplicate copies also allow me to make individual notes on each person’s copy.

  28. Ann Kilgore

    In response to Andrea Nelson of Illinois:
    When I save a record I save as the family names that are on the page as well as the census year. For example: Moore_Johnson_Langley_1860.jpg. That let’s me know the main families and the year. When I go back on my computer to input to family tree, I can find the info more easily.
    I add categories as I need them. I always keep all my info in an originals folder, and classify by type and family. For instance, if I am working on a cemetery photo of someone from the Langley family, I would categorize under the following categories: Langley, originals, photos, cemetery. If it were a census image it would be classified under: Langley, Moore (if the wife had been a Moore), Rain (If related separate family living down the street), Census, 1850 census, Originals. If I were to discover that the people had no children, I would document this under a different classification of No Children and also put back-up info under that category. After reading your comments, I can see that we are thinking along the same lines. Good luck with your research.

    Ann….still making changes after all these years.

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