Posted by Tana L. Pedersen on November 1, 2010 in Family Tree Maker

Two weeks ago at Boston Ancestry Day, I was asked a lot of questions about how to download an Ancestry Member Tree into Family Tree Maker. I think there are many of us who have a main “working” Family Tree Maker database but also have trees on that we use for sharing and gathering information. And if you’re like me, you’re not very diligent about making sure that all your trees contain the same information. Fortunately, in Family Tree Maker 2010 and 2011, you can quickly download your Ancestry tree into Family Tree Maker and either keep it as a separate tree or merge it with one of your existing files.

Obviously, I can’t mention Ancestry Member Trees without raising the synchronization issue. As someone who uses Family Tree Maker on a daily basis and also has multiple Ancestry Member Trees, I understand everyone’s desire for this feature–and the urgency behind it. As I am sure many of you have questions about is handling this issue, I am including this official statement, which I hope clarifies the company’s position. “Our customers frequently ask for more ability to synchronize and transfer data between Family Tree Maker and Ancestry Member Trees, and we want to assure you that we are listening. This is a complex issue and while we cannot say for certain when it will be resolved, it is an important priority that we are actively working on.”

Now, back to downloading trees. When you download your Ancestry tree, it will include all the facts, sources, and images you have manually attached to individuals. If you have linked records to your tree, the downloaded tree will include only the information and sources associated with the records, not the actual record images (I’ll show you how to reattach these records below).

  1. Go to the New Tree tab on the Plan workspace.
  2. Make sure you are logged in to your account. If you aren’t, you can log in by clicking the Login link on the Web Dashboard.
  3. Click Download a tree from Ancestry then click the Export button next to the tree you want to download.
  4. Click Import to save the file as a new tree; click Merge to merge the file with the tree you currently have open.

If you choose to import the tree, you will be prompted to enter a name for the tree and save it; if you choose to merge the file with an existing tree, the Merge Wizard will open and guide you through merging the trees. A message tells you when the process is complete.

Now to reattach a record image, go to the Sources workspace. Double-click a source citation. The Edit Source Citation window opens. Click the Media tab then click the Download Image if Available button. The image will download to your Media Collection and be linked to the selected citation.


  1. Judy

    Any details on the delivery date of pre-ordered Mac versions? I know the store says “shipping early November,” but everything about this Mac version has been a little vague. ;-}

  2. Clara Owen

    I certainly agree with Judy’s comment about the Mac version of FTM. Seems as if this has been such a hassle to get it out to the public. I am so looking forward to getting it in the mail.

  3. Nina Reauveasu

    I am so disappointed… I ordered and received the 2010 version of Family Tree Maker and there is no instruction manual. You have to buy the manual separately… I am so frustrated trying to navigate this program without any instruction and absolutely refuse spend another dime this program… ancestry is just trying to make money!! They don’t care about our experience!!

    I’m starting to regret that I have used all these years, not saving info to a program of my own and now I fear if I can’t keep up with the ever rising costs of ancestry I’ll lose all my work. Not to mention the low-life reputation ancestry is getting for all the people that just copy copy copy family history with no regard for accuracy.

    Sorry, I’m a little frustrated today as I try to download my tree with little success… it doesn’t download all the people… missing at least 700 people!!

  4. Ellin Whitson

    I only have about 95 names in my tree so far so I’m wondering if it makes sense to purchase the new Family Tree Maker for Mac. I’m worried that as a first addition it may not work very well and will need a lot of tweaking. Will the upgrades cost money?? Is it worth the hassle of figuring out how to use it??

    Anyone with more experience care to comment?

    I don’t add any names without documentation. In fact I traveled to Wisconsin last year to find my Grandfather’s grave so that I could find his first name! That’s probably overkill, but I don’t trust anyone’s trees.

  5. worshacf

    Ellin Whitson #5

    True, acestry is coming out with FTM for the iMac, they say in November.

    I use a iMac and use Reunion 9.09 software for my genealogy, and love it.
    There’s something that bothers me though, the tech support people always say that Safari is not compatable with their data base and server.

    Odd since Safari is a Apple product and loaded on all iMacs. I brought that up once, the tech was silent, but then went on to explain that Firefox works better. Well, Firefox is slow, cumbersome, and a real pain to use on a iMac. That being said, the only way I can attach a story or a picture from another member public tree is to do it with Firefox.

    Yes, upgrades cost money. The instruction manual in book form if you want one, costs money. If they included all this, the price of the software would be much higher.

    To answer your question, buyer beware. Personally, I’m not changing to FTM for the iMac. The Windows users have bloged their complaints frequently enough, why become a iMac FTM complainer too?


  6. More and more software companies are doing away with printed manuals due to the cost of printing them and keeping them updated for newer releases at the same time.

    FTM has a excellent Help file and the online KnowledgeBase is a godsend for those who need help.

  7. I have only been doing genealogy research for my family for a few months. I started at from scratch, and then decided that I COULD DO IT! and purchased FTM 2011 AND the book. I imported the gedcom file my Uncle started (above 7,000 people) which he did the hard way, over many years, primarily without computer-assisted research “hints”.

    I have spent untold hours since then cleaning up his gedcom file, and updating it, working in both the FTM 2011 software and in my online tree at (silly me!) Now I am trying to merge the two in FTM 2011 – it is working, but I’ve done something wrong and am getting duplicates of so many facts! even duplicate people. What a headache.

    When I get this straightened out, I understand that I can upload my merged file to and just give it the same name as my previous version to maintain the member connections that I had. Since this process does not seem to be very well documented, I am a little scared…. LOL

    Telephone support told me today that since it is a new program, that’s just the way it is – hmmm. Really?

  8. Jeff Jahn

    4 Nina Reauveasu

    Their is a guide its a pdf file installed on your harddrive. Most software is doing this instead now. Go to where you installed FTM 2010. Usually under the program folder. Look for Family Tree Maker 2010 folder then under that look for a folder called Manuals.

  9. Pat Dakin

    I have installed FTM ’11; tried to download one of my online trees. I bought the book, read all instructions. Followed the instructions for downloading the tree. It downloads ok up to 99%, then says it’s unzipping the file…the other day I left it running overnight–12 hrs or so later it was still unzipping. So, I deleted everything that I thought would conflict; uninstalled the program, reinstalled it–which was identical to what was uninstalled–reopened the same problem. At least today I did get a message before downloading the tree, but now it’s still 99% and unzipping…it did not ask me for a new name or anything. I don’t even know where it is trying to go. The only FTM program still installed is the version ’08?/16…I even uninstalled FTM 10 trying to avoid conflict. I am so frustrated. Any suggestions? I’m waiting on response to my e-mail for help.

  10. May

    I love being able to load the Sources directly from the Source tab now. The older versions were not so accurate at pulling in info. I absolutely love this new version so far. Upgraded from 2009.

    Nina, Since today’s Tech age is getting more reliable on e-versions of publications, Ancestry doesn’t provide a paper-manual as the software already comes with the e-version. But they do provide the Paper Manual as an option to purchase. I would like to suggest that you update your software to make sure you have all the updates under the Help Tab, then see with the “Knowledge database” to see if they provide more solutions to include your missing people on a download. I just purchased the 2011 version and love the new feature of importing the missing media under the source citation tab. I can load the tree directly from Ancestry rather than the previous habit of having to “manage my tree” and export a gedcom, only to then have to import a gedcom into FTM…gets a little annoying.

    Although I do see why many want the “synchronize with Ancestry” feature, I literally just found out how to import the Media for the Census/Military etc. that the GedCom imported as only data. the FTM 2011 Version has the citation documented and allows you to “pull in” or download the media from the online database in one click. I absolutely love this feature as it was upsetting to see that people were missing in my 09 version gedcom version. the 2010 version unfortunately doesn’t have all the “pretty features” that the 2011 version does. Something told me I should wait for 2011 before I did anything. I would call Customer Service and ask to see if they can give you a deal since you are so troubled by the loss of info in the 2010 version. I’m sure they would be glad to help you upgrade for much cheaper, even though I know you probably feel you shouldn’t have to spend more money. I promise you, it’s worth every penny you pay for the newer version! I have found them directly much cheaper than the retail versions. I truly wish you luck.

    Pat, It sounds like you might wish to check your RAM (Memory). The program requirements say 500Mb spare Memory to operate but I know it’s a memory/processor hog. I know this because on my computer (3GB RAM) my CPU usage goes to 99% when I try to merge 2 trees together. It really is a Hog on the CPU and can crash mid process. It’s really annoying sometimes because then errors pop up or even freeze. I have noticed for this I have to have all other programs closed to do anything. I would also suggest you adjust your startup settings in “msconf” under the Run Section. You might already be draining your memory on startup by having too many unnecessary things loading when you turn on the computer- most people don’t know this. other FTM versions shouldn’t have any effect on the 2011 version since it installs completely separate altogether. So it sounds like the problem isn’t the software but some configuration or hardware issue.

    Ellin, I love your statement about not trusting anyone’s trees. I don’t either. But you can still use it as a reference point. You never know when you might find someone who has pictures of your grandparents and actual death records, etc. Some people truly do check their info before adding but unfortunately most depend on the “leaves”, which I disagree with in doing. It’s taken me a lot of time and I agree in every aspect of checking, double-checking, and re-checking everything before you add anything. I just received Legacy as a gift so I now use Both programs to cross check each other. It’s wonderful. My compliments to you. It’s obvious you truly to care to find the right line of history. That’s fabulous. My hat’s off to you.

    Overall, I love the 2011 version so far. Can’t wait to see when Ancestry finally decides to fully synchronize the two together. That would be the best thing out there, but I guess profit-wise, I see why they haven’t done it yet.

  11. xena

    i agree with this i am new to this website and to family history. one dayt i woke up and relized i wanted to know my orgin so i got on thew internet. this site has helped a lot

  12. Cynthia

    I have just spent the last week, cleaning up duplicate information in my FTM file. I merged three files and instead of going thru each of the flagged records, I just told the system to accept all. That is where the duplicate information comes from. So my advice is to pay very close attention to what you are merging! As for using FTM, I have used it since version 1 (yes, I still have the floppy disk!) and I love it. I have tried other programs and always revert back to FTM.

  13. Terri

    I’m with Nina on her issues with so many of the users just adding the “hint” stuff to their tree without really thinking about whether it really belongs there. I have found that several of my ancestors have been added to other trees in the most obviously ill-fitting places. I only use other trees as a jumping off point for further research. Some folks out there have done an exceptional job at sourcing their trees – others (the ones giving ancestry a bad name) just accept, accept, accept any hit that comes up.

  14. Carol A. H.

    The people who copy records and ancestors without any research on their own are called “name gatherers.” It’s junk genealogy and gives a bad name to Ancestry.

    I received a “hint” to another tree and the person who “claims” my ancestor has accepted a census record after the death date! And ancestry doesn’t have a warning system for this dumb stuff! Duh!!!

    BTW, this person is not really related to me.

  15. Dan W

    Please make the ability to sync a top priority. There are dozens of programs out there (have been for years) that do this well, such as Quicken, Outlook, Picasa and recently g-mail. Sure it’s complex, but it can be done. The fact you have taken so long without any real progress means that you really are not putting your best people on this or you simply don’t have very good developers. Very disapointing.

  16. Bill B

    I also have been using FTM since the beginning of FTM and also for years. I have tried the downloading feature in FTM 2010 like in the hint above. I attempted to merge the and FTM files (I made a separate copy of full FTM file before merging – glad I did). As stated above, I got many, many duplicates and errors for my 1000+ names, way more than I could ever resolve. I bought FTM2011 and will try this again. However, it is disappointing that it appears better to just merge data by hand not automatically.

  17. Tana L. Pedersen

    # 11
    Pat, did you ever hear back from support? I hope that your problem has been resolved.

    # 14
    Cynthia, thanks for the reminder. Anyone who is merging files together should really pay attention to how the information will be added to your tree. Otherwise there can be a lot of cleanup. And also, backup, backup, backup.

    Bill, can you tell me what types of errors you were receiving? There may be some I could help you with.

  18. Pam Decatur

    Re: #10 Jeff

    Thank You, from someone who intuitively uses software. I have always thought this program fairly self explanatory.

    When I had a problem or question in the past, the online help/knowledge base answered those questions. Occasionally, I read thru these articles and comments and sometimes there is an “Ah ha” moment. Something you’ve questioned or thought about but were too involved (or lazy) to track down the answer.

    A manual, you say. Dang!

    And while browsing thru the table of contents, it too gave me an “Ahh ha” reaction after scanning thru the sections on maps. Double dang! They always said you could trace an ancestor’s migration! And so you can, if you tweak the place names. It appears Bing doesn’t always like the county names in with the place name. Sometimes it returns an incorrect location when the county is included. But hey, I’m not perfect either.

    Again thanks for info/reminder that the manual IS included in program folder with your program. Sometimes it even helps if you read it!

  19. Mark S.

    I have used FTM since 1993 and joined Ancestry last January. I am not an intuitive computer use, heck, I need help to manage photos. But I followed the download instructions in the post to the letter, and it never advanced beyond 1% completion and it ran for about 14 hrs. Very disappointing.

Comments are closed.