Posted by Ancestry Team on May 6, 2010 in Site Features, Website

Today we added to the site a new tool to help you quickly and simply upload multiple family history photos and documents at one time.

To try this out in your own family tree, you’ll want to click the “add media” or “add photo” links, just as you would have before this change.  What you will see next is an orange “Select files…” button.

When you click the “Select files…” button the tool opens your computer’s file directory, and you can select multiple files or just one.  To select multiple files you can use your mouse to highlight several at a time, or you can also pres the “ctrl” key while you click on multiple files.  (On a Mac use the Command key instead of “ctrl”.)  In the image below I’ve selected 10 files to add.

Once I select the files and click the “Open” button, the files begin uploading.  A progress bar shows relatively how long I can expect to wait.

The new upload tool requires Adobe Flash.  The odds are that you are among the 98% of internet users who have Adobe Flash installed.  In case you don’t, we still have the old system available, along with a handy link to install Adobe Flash (which is a free download.).

We’re excited to add this new feature, and think you will all enjoy it.  Please let me know how it works for you by leaving a comment below.



  1. Susan

    This looks useful. When I went to the cemetery to get photos of my family I also finished out the roll photographing others. I have done this several times. Is there a limit on how many photos ancestry wants added or is adding these other photos helpful to other people. Also, location photos. I would really like to see photos from locations where my family lived both old photos and new but I am concerned this could really bog down the site Any suggestions? I thought I’d ask this before I add a lot of photos.

  2. Andy Hatchett

    Hmmm.. wonder how this will work for Macs since Steve declared Flash stuff off limits for Macs.

  3. Bill Hutchison

    I have recently been unable to see members photo posts. I contacted and found out that this ability has been removed. I was told that many of the members had been loading photos of living people and were upset that they could be seen by others. I think that Ancestry should maybe add a disclosure to the member informing them that this will happen, instead of just shutting the entire thing down. The was it was allowed me to find photos of direct family members that were previously unavailable.

  4. Susan

    #4 Please explain more fully. I have put up group photos from my grandfather’s employment, hoping to identify these people before everyone who would know them are gone. I also thought the families might like to contact me to have a copy of the photos. Is there a time frame on this? I certainly don’t want to take the time to add more photos, if no one will be able to see them. Does this effect this type of situation? Are photos I have saved from other trees gone now. Ancestry needs to announce big changes in advance. Can we stipulate an overide? Can I request that people who want to make my grandfather’s photo be allowed to do so. I know he probably has more out there. This could be a big loss. Very Confused? BOLD disclaimers and work on “private” selections would help.

  5. Nancy

    Susan #5, the Media Gallery has temporarily been removed from your member profile page. Photos which you have attached to deceased people in your public tree can be viewed on their individual pages; the photos should also be searchable.

  6. Jeff Ford

    Andy, Steve did NOT declare Flash stuff off limits for Macs. He just put the final nail in the coffin for Flash on mobile devices.

  7. Jeff Ford

    If it is dependent on Flash, no. But Flash hasn’t been on any(?) mobile Apple devices since Day One. Flash for Apple desktops and laptops will be ok despite what Steve says.

  8. Kirk Sellman


    After I upload a picture within a person, I try to attach people to it. The first addtional person works okay, but when I try to attach a second additional person, it changes the first additional person to the name of the second additional person. I then I have the first and second additional ones as the same name. That means that I have the initial person I uploaded from and the first and second additional persons end up the same. I just delete the second additional person and allow the picture to be fully uploaded. I then add the additional people by editing the picture.

  9. Wynona

    #4,#5,#6, The loss of member photo posts is the most disappointing change Ancestry has made to this site. I am seriously considering canceling my subcription due to the decision to disable this link. The Media Link was an extremely helpful research tool which would enable customers to find family pictures and stories that would have otherwise been lost to them. Member photos and stories are vital to research and provide answers from far away places. A disclaimer or the option to flag individual pictures as private at the time of upload would have been a better solution to serve all Ancestry customers.

  10. Wynona,

    Ancestry really had no choice in the matter – the software wasn’t working properly and was allowing photos of living persons to be seen, something that they promised members would *NOT* happen, it became a choice of disabling it and fixing it or facing angry members (and their lawyers).

  11. Frankie Blevins

    You would think this being an Ancestry site all media would have been of ancestors. I have contributed lots of pictures and info for anyone that wanted it and have found lots of media I didn’t have. Why would anyone put present upto date photo’s on here anyway? If not reinstated, I will drop my subscription.

  12. Nancy

    #12, #14, member photo posts have not been lost. Photos and stories of deceased people in public trees are still visible on their individual pages, just as they have always been, and are searchable, just as they have always been.

    The only change is that the grouping of photos and stories is not available in a media gallery on a member’s profile page. This function is often disabled by members, as has been possible in the privacy settings. If you go to a tree where the member has chosen to do this, do you threaten to cancel your membership? No, I would imagine that you look at the INDIVIDUALs in the tree who might be related to you. It might take more time, but going to each individual’s page ensures that you are finding the correct relative. It is the opinion of many that you should be contacting the member tree owner BEFORE copying the photos anyway.

    The invitation of trees to others, often close family members, includes the option of seeing living people. This is where families share photos and stories and create vibrant family histories which their descendants may very well want to share with the public one day.

    You may choose to not put information about anyone living in your trees, but Ancestry has promised to protect the privacy of all photos, stories and information attached to living people. As Andy said in #13, Ancestry has no choice but to fix this problem before turning the Media Gallery back on.

  13. Karis

    You are always helpful. My living family members birth and marriage info comes up on searches, so I’m getting mixed signals on the privacy concerns.

  14. Karis.

    Do you mean searches for documents or searches for Family Trees?

    Ancestry doesn’t filter their Historical Documents databases- nor should they.

    Several states (Texas, North Carolina, Florida, California among them) have indexes online showing some combination of births, marriages, deaths that cover up to 2002 or more.

    The Public Records Vol 1. also shows dates of birth.

    It is only Ancestry Public Member Trees and Rootsweb WorldConnect trees that are filtered for living individuals.

  15. Lynn

    I like the new photo uploader. It seems to be working much faster and more smoothly than the old one did. Less clicks to get to what you want.

    #16 & #17…I also have found my LIVING family member’s birth & marriage data while searching member trees. I’ve found that it often seems to be where a member has entered a date in an unconventional manner such as MM-DD-YY. Most experienced researchers usually use MM-DD-YYYY or DD-MMM-YYYY, in which case the data does stay private. Something for Ancestry to look into as far as their coding goes, to possibly force members to enter the year as a 4 digit number. Also, I’ve found several members who will put month and day in the date slot and then the year in the “Detail” spot….not private that way either.

  16. Nancy

    Lynn, the other day I saw that someone had put “Living” in the death date field–and that doesn’t work either!

  17. This is all very well about protecting the privacy of living people but…

    Suppose there is a living person who wants their picture displayed on your public family tree -there needs to be a way to allow that without entering a fake date of death or putting something in the date of death field.

    To the best of my knowledge there isn’t a way to do this under the present system.

  18. Lynn (a different Lynn than the above)

    #20 Andy

    If individuals are interested in sharing info about living family members, friends, etc. there is Facebook or related sites that focus on living individuals. These sites will face increasing legal scrutiny/privacy issues associated with individuals posting information and photos about others.

    In my opinion, should focus on non-living ancestors. For privacy reasons, the only individual who should have the ability to authorize or post information/pictures about a living person is that person. If someone on wants to share their picture, they can place a picture on their profile.

  19. Lisa

    I agree with Lynn #21. should not be used for sharing current photos of family. That is not what it was meant to be used for. It is supposed to be for searching for information on “ancestors”.

    If an individual wants to use it to share photos of living members of the family, they should make their tree private (which should make all photos and documents in that tree unviewable to other members) and send an invite to those family and friends you wish to view it.

  20. Kirk Sellman

    #21 and #22
    I 50 years, the current living persons will be someone’s ancestors. I agree that there may be privacy issues, but those people who want to put something out there about those living today should have the option. Let their relatives decide if there’s a problem.

  21. Lynn (#21)

    #23 Kirk

    The issue is what is visible to others, not neccesarily the information you have in your online tree.  However, have you asked and obtained approval from every living member of your family regarding information that you post about them? I have family members who requested that I do not post their information and I have found information about that individual in public trees (obviously that “cousin” never asked that living individual’s permission) and’s privacy filter did not screen the information. 

    I collect information about living individuals, but that information is soley in my Family Tree Maker file on my computer; anything that I posted to does not contain information about living family members.

  22. Karis

    I don’t see how ancestry can determine if someone is living or not by photos, particularly group photos. On the one hand, I shouldn’t be deprived of the ability to post one of my ancestors photos because there are other people in the photo who could be alive. On the other hand, what will happen to the search if there are thousands of photos added of living people? Will this become something where there is an expiration date or archived copies? The old photos add something to our research where the ones of living people generally don’t. Could there be a separation somehow?

  23. Andy Hatchett

    My cousin’s mother *IS* his ancestor AND she is living AND she wants her photo on his PUBLIC Ancestry member tree.

    What is the problem with allowing that?

    Ancestors don’t have to be dead or born before 1930 to be ancestors.

  24. Greg Chestnut

    Kenny, I have the same problem as #11. Trying to attach a photo to multiple people at upload does not work correctly.

  25. Karis

    You did not express any opinion as to how this will affect our searches and our search time. Is there going to be a good way to deal with this?

  26. BrklynBridge

    Kenny…on a related note.

    After uploading a photo/document, can you PLEASE make the default option “do not use as primary photo” when you elect to “attach” it to other tree members? It is a ROYAL pain in the *** having to to re-edit EVERY additional attachment to unlink the photo/document from EVERY selectee’s “primary photo” display.


  27. Nancy

    Karis #25, #28. The only way that Ancestry can determine that a photo is of a living person is that it is attached to a living person in your tree; i.e., to someone you have given them enough information about to assume that he/she is living. In other words, you have input a birth date that is less than 100 years ago and you have put no information in the death date field. In a group photo, if any of the people it is attached to are deceased, that photo is visible and searchable. According to Ancestry’s terms, it is your responsible to have gotten permission from any living person who is in the photo before uploading it.

    Photos attached to living people are not searchable and so should not affect the search engine. If there are photos of your living relatives that you think another member has, you could contact that tree owner. They might share the photo with you if you promise not to put it in a public tree. If you are asking whether Ancestry archives the photos and then shares them when the person dies, I believe that the answer is no. If the tree owner adds a death date to his/her tree, then the photos would become public.

    If you have photos of living people that you want to share with the public, I think that you would need to do this on another website. If you want to share these photos with individuals you know, you can invite them to your tree and allow them to see living people.

    Ancestry has set up the separation. Sometimes human error causes people to show up as living who shouldn’t (as discussed in earlier posts, if the death date is in the wrong format, if something else is in the death field, and I think if no birth date is given) and then photos of living people are visible. The current issue with the media gallery is also something that needs to be fixed. Other than this, the same system is in place that always has been.

    I hope this answers your questions.

  28. Andy Hatchett


    I didn’t express an opinion because I know that as more and more photos are added the search times will have to increase.

    My whole thing on photos is this – they do not constitute a basic part of genealogical research. While nice to have no one needs them to do research.

    Were I running Ancestry there would be no photos of *any* people allowed- period.

    Far better, imho, that researchers spent their time scanning old documents, letters, bible pages, gravestones, etc and using the server space for those items rather that 42 pictures of their latest grandchild. There are other venues far better suited to those where you can arrange them in almost any order you wish.

    I also know this won’t happen as Ancestry attempts to be all things genealogical to all people- as the old saying goes “Jack of all trades, master of none”.

  29. David Farr

    Removal of media gallery.This was the most use full tool you had.Have the software engineers modify the site to put protection on individual photos as an option when they are uploaded.Ancestry should not be used as a repository for your family photos.There are offline programs for that.Having the ability to view photos has given me access to ancestor photos I never knew existed,and it not only is not feasible to search individual not possible if you didn’t know they existed.Example i am connected to several members with over 15000 individuals.I cannot search and view each ones profile.You should also have an agreement with each member.That member has to agree to its terms or their membership is terminated.

  30. Kenny Freestone

    For comments 11 and 27, we are looking into this and hope to provide a fix shortly–thank you for the feedback.

  31. Karis

    #26 Your response here seems to fully support the use of family trees for genealogy and the use of photos, which is not what I had expected from you, based on other postings. Perhaps, the difference is that some of us want to do more than the basic birth, death genealogy. Some people are building bios of their family members, and photos certainly have a place in that. In addition, I could not disagree more about the photos providing clues. I started with a group of old photos, that had been labeled on the back. Two of the photos were taken at the exact setting. It turned out that the men were brothers. The photos had a stamp which gave me the location where they lived. They were wearing civil war era clothing so I could determine the approximate years. I searched ancestry for the name on the photos, the town, and the years and got a census with both brothers names on it. By posting the photos others can follow this trail. I would encourage ancestry to provide a way to deal with the back of the photos. What I have done on some is scan the back and then scan the photo including the back scan. Since only the photo portion moves on when copied, this is the only way I have found to pass on the information. Thank you ancestry for both the family trees and photos-just keep making them manageable for searches perhaps a way of categorizing them.

  32. Karis,

    I support the use of family trees to display the results of genealogical research but do not support their use in doing actual genealogical research. The use of photos can, at times, be useful but they don’t fall into the needed category. If one has them one should make use of them but, imho, they are not,in general, worth the time to specifically seek them out.

  33. Andy Hatchett

    To the best of my knowledge there is no sort option available after upload. The order is, I believe, in reverse order of the upload. I. E. The newer one always appears before the older uploaded pictures.

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