Posted by Ancestry Team on March 22, 2011 in Family Tree Maker

Last month when I announced the February webinar for Family Tree Maker, hundreds of you posted questions for our experts. However, due to time constraints, only a limited number of topics could be covered. So today I wanted to take some time to respond to some of the questions and concerns that didn’t make it into the webinar. Hopefully I will provide information that is relevant to all of you.

I’d also like to thank everyone who comments on the blog posts, answers questions for other users, and shares their genealogy and Family Tree Maker experiences. I am proud to be a part of such an helpful and active community of users!

Now, to the questions.

Uploading/Downloading Trees to

Where can I find directions about uploading and downloading trees to

You can view instructions in the software’s Online Help (select “Help for Family Tree Maker” from the Help menu) and in the digital copy of the Companion Guide that comes with your software (select “Companion Guide” from the Help menu and go to pages 31-32 and 257-260).

Can I keep my tree private if I upload it to Ancestry?

Yes. When you upload your tree, you have the option to make your tree public or private. By default, your tree will be public. If you want to keep your tree private, deselect the “Allow others to see my tree as a public member tree” option. If you keep your tree private, Ancestry members can still see names, birth dates, and birthplaces from your tree in search results. However, if they want to see your tree or any attached photos and records, they will have to use the Ancestry Connection Service to contact you. Then you can choose to give them access to your tree or not.

I want to put my tree on Ancestry but I don’t want to upload my entire tree. Can I upload only part of it?

Yes. When you upload your tree to Ancestry, you can include every individual in your tree or you can choose specific individuals or family branches to upload. You can also choose to privatize living individuals so that facts and relationships for living individuals aren’t uploaded.

If I download my tree from into Family Tree Maker, will it include my pictures and documents?

Yes, your tree will contain all the facts, sources, and images you’ve manually attached to individuals in your tree.

I want to create a book using the online service on but my tree isn’t ready to be put online. Can I make a book without uploading my tree?

In order to use the online publishing tool on Ancestry (available in Family Tree Maker on the Publish tab), you do need to upload your tree to Ancestry. That way, the program can automatically create family group sheets, pedigree trees, and timelines for you based on information in your tree. However, if you don’t want to keep your tree online, you can delete it after you finish your publishing project.

Backing Up Files

Can I back up my files to a flash drive?

Yes. To back up your tree to a flash drive, select “Backup” from the File menu. When the Backup window opens, select your flash drive from the “Removable media” drop-down list.

Does Family Tree Maker auto-save my tree? And how often?

Family Tree Maker saves your tree automatically every time you make a change.

Is it safe to overwrite my backup files?

When you create a backup file in Family Tree Maker, it automatically names the backup file using the current date. This can help you keep track of various backup files you’ve created. However, if you want, you can overwrite your backup files by using the same name every time you back up your files. I would recommend that you only do this if you’re sure you don’t need the previous backup.

When I use the Backup option, does it back up all my trees at once?

When you use the Backup option, only the tree that is currently open will be backed up. You must back up each of your trees separately.

Upgrading or Updating the Software

Will Family Tree Maker 2011 open my version 16 files?

Yes. You can import your old files directly into the software without losing any data. If you have multiple files in the old program that represent different families, you will need to import each one separately.

Will Family Tree Maker 2011 replace the old version of my software?

No. Family Tree Maker 2011 installs as a completely separate program and will not affect your old program.

If you want to learn more about how to upgrade to version 2011 or want to see what new features are available, you can download a free Upgrade Guide.

I want to make sure my software is up-to-date. What is the most current version number?

For Family Tree Maker 2011, the current version is If you want to see what version you’re using, go to the Help menu and select “About Family Tree Maker”. You can also make sure your software is up-to-date by selecting “Check for Update” from the Help menu.

For Family Tree Maker for Mac, the current version is If you want to see what version you’re using, go to the Family Tree Maker menu and select “About Family Tree Maker”. You can also make sure your software is up-to-date by selecting “Check for Updates” from the Family Tree Maker menu.

I am currently using a different genealogy program. Can I import my file without losing any information?

You can import Legacy Family Tree files, The Master Genealogist files, and FamilySearch Personal Ancestral Files (PAFs) directly into Family Tree Maker; your files will contain all your information plus any media items you’ve included. If your file was created in another program, you can export your tree as a GEDCOM, which Family Tree Maker can open. You won’t lose any of the data you’ve entered, but media items won’t be included in the file.


How do I add a second marriage for an individual?

To add a second spouse for an individual, select the appropriate individual on the People workspace (Family tab). In the family group view, click the “Choose Spouse” icon next to the individual’s name. Then choose “Add Spouse” from the drop-down list. Enter a name for the second spouse and click OK. Now, enter any information you have about the second marriage in the Marriage fields on the editing panel.

How do I indicate that someone is a stepparent?

You can choose a relationship type (such as stepparent) on the People workspace (Person tab). On the People workspace, select the individual who is the stepparent; then click the Person tab. Now click the Relationships button. Select the person’s stepchild in the list. In the Relationship drop-down list, choose “Step.”

I can ignore hints on Ancestry. Can I ignore hints in Family Tree Maker?

Yes. If you find a hint that isn’t relevant to anyone in your tree, you can chose to ignore the hint so it won’t appear in your hints list again. To ignore a hint, access the hint on the Web Search workspace; then click the Ignore record button in the Search result detail toolbar.

Can I organize my media items by various branches of my family?

Yes. To organize your media items by families, you can create a media category for each family. To create a media category, go to the Media workspace and select Categorize Media from the Media menu. In the window that appears, click the Add button. Enter a name for the category (such as Reed or Smith) and click OK. Repeat the step for other family branches. When you add a media item to Family Tree Maker, make sure you assign each item to the appropriate family category.


  1. stephen lynch

    I just signed up on We are planning a trip to Austria to find some of my relatives. All I know is my grandfather, Andrew Lynch changed his name from Jenco to Lynch at Ellis Island. My grandmothers name was Mary Lynch.
    Please send me any info which may be helpful in finding the name of the town in Austria he was born in and any relatives living there. thanks.

  2. Hello Stephen
    The blog isn’t really a place to request information, you really need to go to the message boards on the collaberate tab, you may find some better information there on the Surnames list, or create one of your own.

    best regards – TonyC

  3. Sheryl

    Does anyone know if there is a way to bring up a list of people in FTM that have hints in Ancestry? The Ancestry trees have this feature but I have been unable to figure out how to do this in FTM.

  4. Wicked Witch

    OK, Ancestry. Here goes to give you ANOTHER chance to answer the question rather than fobbing-off or just ignoring us it hoping we will go away.

    Rather than trying to explain anything, let’s play Question and Answer time. It will be a bit like an FAQ page – in fact, rather a lot like an FAQ as this is the umpteenth time this has been asked so it fulfills the F for Frequently. Not completely like an FAQ page of course, as on those you do at least stand a chance of receiving a proper answer.

    Let’s see if this bears any fruit.

    Does anyone from Ancestry actually read these blogs after they have set them up?
    Why doesn’t Exact Search work any more?
    Whose decision was it to remove the facility?
    (Or is it the case that the function is broken and nobody knows how to set it up again?)
    Why was the decision made to remove the facility?
    Why are we, who subscribe to Ancestry every year (in my case 10 years at least), being ignored in our questions regarding Exact Search?
    Do you actually care? (I think that the answer to this one is becoming more and more self evident.)

    Tony C:

    1 It is the Wicked Witch of the West please – bah t’at?
    2 and you can’t get more east than Suffolk since Lowestoft is the most easterly town in England.

  5. WW – apologies from a UK transplant to the US – I was talking ‘global’:) So Ilkley may be nearer your home, my ‘area’ was Lancashire – sorry again.

    Like you and many other I would love someone from Ancestry to answer those questions, however as they say – don’t hold your breath.

    Exact – one definition: ‘Strictly and completely in accord with fact; not deviating from truth or reality’, or another way to put it is ‘not fuzzy something a bit like that somewhere in the record – somewhere’ – which seems to be the Ancestry definition.


  6. Stephen #12
    I think the answer to that is no, however there are any number of software packages that can make web pages from a GEDCOM file that you can export from FTM.

    GedHTree is just one, however that costs about $30 for the registered version, free if you don’t use the photograph page feature.

    We use GedHTree to create the pages on our own website, used it for about 6 years. There are others like PhpGedView but we have no real experience of those.


  7. Tana L. Pedersen

    #10 Sheryl
    In Family Tree Maker there is no way to create a list of all individuals with hints. Definitely something I’m hoping for in the future.

    #12 Stephen
    Family Tree Maker does let you save reports to HTML, which can be uploaded to your website. You can also save charts as PDFs.

  8. Tana

    Though you can save reports in various formats including HTML it does not create web pages of the family tree, unless of course you want to manually create family pages and then modify them so that links are formed that navigate up and down the tree.

    That is what I thought Stephen was asking.


  9. Orange Bucket

    Suggesting to use ‘Check For Update…’ isn’t the most helpful suggestion without further qualification. Under Windows 7 unless you have deliberately taken steps to run FTM as administrator all you will get is a dialog box telling you that you aren’t running as administrator. Why you should need to be running with administrator privileges in order for FTM to check a version number is something of a mystery. Once it is established that there is a new version then the lack of administrator privileges would be of interest, but even then FTM should act like other applications do and simply request the administrator privileges from the operating system itself, rather than making it a problem for the user to sort out manually.

    Oh and as pointed out previously FTM 2011 is at version

  10. Orange Bucket

    ‘Exact search’ is the least of the problems. I’d just like it if the order of forenames in the search was respected. If I am searching for ‘Fred Joe Bloggs’ then giving me results for ‘Joe Fred Bloggs’ first isn’t terrible helpful.

  11. Orange Bucket Re: #21


    Once that EXACT box is marked that should be ONLY what you get-period.

    Ancestry simple can’t seem to understand that for some strange reason – well not so strange really as their indexes aren’t concerned with middle names at all and make no distinction between the two. They consider both to be first names and then match up things that have both names on them- in whatever order they might be.

  12. Hi Andy – wondered where you were:)

    I’m just wondering if I can apply the Ancestry definition of Exact to the annual renewal fee and not pay the exact amount, maybe $50 for the world subscription – with 2 gold stars of course.


  13. Tony Knight


    Importing from Gedcom

    Most genealogy programs will export the media links within their gedcoms. If you then import the gedcom into FTM, and include a copy of the media in the same path as specified in the gedcom, the media will appear in FTM although not in the same way as when you import media directly.

  14. I am trying to figure out why there is not any information regarding births and etc. from Nebraska, or Iowa? No marriage records or anything.

  15. W Clayton

    I am making a comment I have made before. I love FTM V16 and still use it. I tried 2008 and 2009 and they were utter JUNK for all except newbie researchers! I had an acquaintance try 2010 for me and had most of the same problems. Until Ancestry finally figures out that you have to make FTM generate a Ancestors/Descendant Genealogy report that is 100.0% editable .rtf format without built in headers and footers I will not ever buy an upgrade. I simply do not understand how those in control of specifying to programmers do not understand how REAL genealogists doing REAL genealogy use Genealogy Reports! All you want to focus on is on-line Trees with photos and “fluttering leaves”. It is really a shame that I tell many, many people each year that visit the FTM where I volunteer not to buy FTM unless they can get a used copy of V16 on e-bay or Amazon.

  16. Orange Bucket

    Hey it’s not all on-line trees and ‘fluttering leaves’, they spend plenty of time working on a ‘new search’ and so breaking the old one which worked fine, and also making sure they give due emphasis to the important results, which as we all know are unsourced entries from trees where people die before they are married, marry at age three, women have children at age seventy-two, and of course have have place names that start off in the UK and end up on the other side of the Atlantic.

  17. GordonH

    As a relative newcomer to both Ancestry and Family Tree Maker, I keep wondering why it is necessary to purchase books to tell us how they work? There is no manual provided with either purchase and although I could afford it, I resent paying for a information that should be included with the software purchase…either paper or download.

  18. Jon Sanders

    #27) Fred there are several aspects to genealogy: Capturing and Documentation which FTM does fairly good at although 3rd party Progeny’s Charting Companion is a good addition. Then there is data and searching which Ancestry does very well (with a good FTM connection) but there are many other data sources since no one has all of the data. I’m assuming you filtered by State first with Ancestry which is my first option. But if you are looking for data in Iowa on marriages, births, deaths (obits) in the 1900’s I would recommend Newspaper Archives. For some states (like KY, Neb)they are useless but for Iowa they are one of the best source I’ve found. Of course their our tons of sites with resources, some free and some with a price so finding them is part of the fun 🙂 Hope this helps.

  19. Elizabeth Morriss

    I purchased FTM with the intent of bringing some order to the somewhat disordered information on Ancesty. My problem is that I cannot get FTM to upload my Ancestry information. I have loaded FTM program on my computer but cannot get Ancestry info into FTM. I have contacted Technical Support and, after trying some suggestions, they recommended – as a last resort – that I do a “clean” reboot. They emailed me specific instructions to accomplish this but it appears to be very technical and may cause “changes” to my computer. I am a little nervous about performing such a drastic “fix”. Any suggestions?

  20. Tana L. Pedersen

    # 30 Gordon
    I don’t know which version of the software you’re working with, but in the 2011 version, a free digital copy of the Companion Guide is included in the software. To access it, go to the Help menu and choose Companion Guide.

    #32 Elizabeth
    I’m sorry to hear that your Ancestry tree isn’t downloading. Before you reboot your computer, I would suggest that you try loading Family Tree Maker on another computer (a friend or family member’s) and see if the tree will download then. That way you can tell whether it’s a problem with the tree or your computer. You might also try downloading a GEDCOM of your tree to see if that works. Good luck!

  21. Tana – so posting on the messageboards gets a better response than contacting the support team in Ancestry, which I did nearly 2 weeks ago on this very problem. Doesn’t say an awful lot about the experts in the support team:

    From the link to support team:

    “Contact our support team, and let our experts help answer your questions.”

    Still waiting for a response – is there a service level agreement that we can quote? Unlikely!


  22. Wicked Witch


    Ancestry has only been consistent in ignoring my emails on the Exact Search subject or just directing me to the FAQ page.

    Enough is enough.

    The ball is in your court.

  23. WW RE: #36

    Just why is the ball in Tana’s court?

    Tana has nothing to do with the operation of the search function.

    Try to hi-jack every Blog article to make is a discussion about search is really bad manners, especially when you have been given directions as to exactly where and how to get answers to your questions.

    And you are correct- enough *is* enough; particularly when it comes to your hi-jacking efforts!

  24. Bev

    Does anyone know how many people you can put on FTM? I have a family I need in one file,it is over 11,000. It is slow and takes me forever to go through. My other FTM families with less than 10,000 run smooth.

  25. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service? Bless you!

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