Posted by Ancestry Team on October 17, 2011 in Family Tree Maker

By now you’ve probably heard about TreeSync. It’s the latest innovative tool available in Family Tree Maker 2012, which gives you the ability to sync one Family Tree Maker tree and one online Ancestry tree.

Now you can make changes to your tree anytime, anywhere. Maybe you’re at the library and you find your grandma’s birth record. Record this information in your online linked tree using your laptop or mobile app; then when you get home, open Family Tree Maker, click the Sync Now button, and your desktop tree will be updated with the new information. Or, add a bunch of family photos to your desktop tree, sync it, and friends and family all over the world can see them in your online tree.

Why Would I Want an Online and a Desktop Tree?

If you only have an online Ancestry tree or you’ve always used Family Tree Maker, you may be wondering why you would want both. Many people enjoy online trees because they can update and edit their tree anywhere they have Internet access. And they can invite friends and family to view the tree, which makes sharing family history quick and easy. Others prefer desktop software because they can quickly build a tree without worrying about Internet connections, refreshes, and upload times. And they can create a variety of beautiful charts and reports to help with their research. With TreeSync, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. You’ll have the mobility of an online tree with the advanced features of a desktop software program.

How Does TreeSync Work?

If your main tree is in Family Tree Maker, you can upload your tree to Ancestry by clicking the Upload and Link to Ancestry button on the Plan workspace. This will create a new linked online tree. (If you’ve already uploaded this tree to Ancestry, you will now have two duplicate online trees; you can simply delete the old one.)

If your main tree is on, you can download it into Family Tree Maker by clicking Download from Ancestry on the Plan workspace. This will create a new linked desktop tree.

Once the trees are linked together, you can access and edit it online or on your desktop. You can even use our Ancestry iPhone and iPad apps to update your tree.

Can I download and sync my Ancestry tree to more than one computer?
You may download your Ancestry tree to any computer that has Family Tree Maker. However, you can only download and sync your tree to one computer—even if you have installed Family Tree Maker 2012 on two computers. Be aware that you cannot synchronize a tree between two computers either.

Can I exclude people when I upload my tree using TreeSync?
No. You must upload your entire tree if you want it to sync between Family Tree Maker and Ancestry. However, you can upload only part of your tree to Ancestry if you simply want to put your tree online and not sync it.

How long does it take to upload and sync a tree?
The first time you upload a tree to it may take a while, especially if you have a lot of media items. However, after the initial upload, the syncing process takes much less time because only your changes are synced and not your entire tree. Due to the different Internet connection speeds that are available and various tree sizes we cannot estimate the length of your syncing time precisely.

What if I already have an online tree and a Family Tree Maker tree? How do I link them together?
You cannot simply link the two trees together. You would need to download your online tree and merge it with your Family Tree Maker tree. (Remember; make a backup of your tree before making any large changes like this.) Then, you’d re-upload the new “complete” tree back to using the “upload and link” option.

Are there parts of my tree that won’t sync?
Although most tree content transfers easily, there are a few exceptions. For more information on potential differences between linked trees on and Family Tree Maker, please read this article.

What About Privacy?

Whenever I mention online trees, I am generally met with one concern. Privacy. Some people feel like their tree is a work in progress and isn’t ready to be shared yet. Others have accumulated a lot of confidential information that they don’t want to share publicly. Fortunately, TreeSync provides with you several privacy options so you don’t have to sacrifice security for mobility.

When you upload your tree to Ancestry, you can make your tree public, which means that other Ancestry subscribers can view your tree (except information about living individuals and private notes), and your tree will be shown in search results on Or, you can make your tree private, which means that limited information about individuals in your tree (name, birth year, birthplace) will appear in Ancestry search results, but no one can view the contents of your tree unless you invite them to. Additionally, you can choose to exclude your tree from appearing even in search indexes on Ancestry. And, you can change your preference at any time, and as often as you like.

What If I Need Help?

I get an error message when I try to sync my desktop and online trees. What do I do?
Occasionally you may get an error message when you try to sync your linked trees. This can occur when your Internet connection is interrupted during the synchronization process. First, make sure your Internet access is enabled in Family Tree Maker. (Go to the File menu and select Go Online. If the menu option “Go Offline” appears, Internet access is already enabled.) Second, check your Internet connection. If you have a dial-up Internet connection, or you have disabled your broadband connection, establish your Internet connection before you open Family Tree Maker. Make sure you are able to get to other websites.

I cannot edit my online Ancestry tree. What happened?
If you cannot edit your synced online tree, it may be because the online tree is temporarily unavailable while the desktop and online trees are being synced. Please wait a few minutes and try again.

Can I delete my tree if I decide I don’t want it online?
Yes, you can delete your online tree at any time. Be aware that once it’s deleted or unlinked, it can’t be re-linked to your Family Tree Maker tree.

If you have questions about TreeSync that haven’t been answered in this post or you are having issues syncing your tree, please contact our Customer Support at 1-800-262-3787, Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm (EST) and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.


  1. arlene miles

    I am really disappointed, I just put a tree into 2011 and now 2012 is out. I can’t keep up with the expense of buying new versions, why can’t you offer updates to folks who already have the prevous version? I am feeling the pain.

  2. Robert Christian

    Is there any way to set a media file to be private (lock icon)? For example, I have a copy of a birth certificate in FTM 2012 but I would like the image to be private. I know facts and notes can be set to private (locked) and do not appear in the online tree.

    In this case, I want my birth to be there but not the image of my birth certificate. My birth certificate is a media link to my citation of my birth.

  3. John Donaldson

    Robert # 2

    Maybe as a workaround make a copy of your tree and name it say “AMT version”.

    Delete the birth certificate and any other data that you don’t want to upload

    Then upload and sync this tree

    John D

  4. Robert Christian

    John #4

    Thanks but I am trying not to have to maintain two trees. I have set my tree to private for now and not invited anyone.

    Perhaps in a future version of Ancestry / FTM they can think about having security levels for each items so you can set what online people see (like some social media sites). For example media could be:

    Make security level of item:
    1) Public
    2) Tree invitees only (default)
    3) Editors, Owner (see below), and Creator only
    4) Owner and Creator only
    5) Creator only

    Where the Owner would be who the fact is about. So if I had a birth certificate of my son and set it two 3 above, then editors of the tree, my son, and I could see it.

    The Creator would be the person that has the original tree.

    If anyone has any other ideas for the interm, it would be appreciated.

  5. Heather K.

    Enjoyed the sync feature and synced two of my trees this past weekend. No more double entry for me! Fortunately for me, I used the online trees more than the FTM software so I was able to delete my desktop trees and download from my online trees. For those that are concerned about privacy, as someone in the archive/library profession I would suggest using parents or grandparents as your home person and perhaps only use names for those still living.
    I do have a few questions: if media content is synced to your desktop tree and you cancel membership to Ancestry, will your media items remained attached (I’m thinkin of all those census images)? Or will the media disappear? Also, in the future will GPS capabilites be incorporated into the mobile apps?

  6. Tom Cambron

    I purchased FTM 2012 primarily because of the sync feature. So for I have not been successful in completing the link. I have my file on a desktop and laptop, one with XP and the other with Windows 7.
    I called FTM technical help three occasions and they said compact the file, disable virus protection and even try in in the middle of the night when there is less traffic. I tried all this and still have been unsuccessful My file is large, almost 980 people and a lot of pictures. Anyone got any suggestions.

  7. Ancestry member

    #7 Tom:

    In my humble opinion, there is no “middle of the night” for Ancestry. It is always busy. 980 people in a tree is not large at all. Lots of people have much more.

    Keep trying with Ancestry support, you get a different person every time. Ask for a supervisor. You might get someone who really knows an answer to your problem. I’m sorry I don’t have any answers.

  8. Lou Svach

    I was excited when I first read about the new feature in FTM 2012 but then reality set in!

    Back about 20 years ago, I uploaded my FTM contents to the World Tree on 10 or more years later, I wanted to update (Sync?) my newest data in the World Tree but there was no such thing availabe. So I uploaded a new, larger tree in the World Tree database. It was discouraging because now there were two separate World Trees. And, much of the data is duplicated.

    So, today I have a Family tree on (about 1 year old) with MANY additions through the use of ‘Hints’. In the meantime, my personal computer copy of FTM has a bunch of new generations added that are NOT on! How in the world will I ever sync the two if I have to DELETE one or the other!?

    By the way, my FTM file on the computer contains almost 3000 individuals and almost 800 marriages. I would be scared to death to delete it. Maybe my only option is to delete the Family tree on Ancesty and just start all over again with all the Hints?

  9. Karl Greenwood

    #10 Lou:

    As Tana wrote in the post, the best way to combine an online and desktop tree is the following:

    “What if I already have an online tree and a Family Tree Maker tree? How do I link them together?

    You cannot simply link the two trees together. You would need to download your online tree and merge it with your Family Tree Maker tree. (Remember; make a backup of your tree before making any large changes like this.) Then, you’d re-upload the new “complete” tree back to using the “upload and link” option.”

  10. Rick

    #10 Lou
    I had about 16,000 individuals in my ancestry tree and over 800 photos. I down loaded this file to my new 2012 FTM and created the same named file on FTM. I saved my 2010 FTM tree into 2012 so both would be available in 2012 FTM. I saved a backup for both trees. I am now starting to merge the living people info from my computer file into my ancestry/FTM 2012 family tree, a group at a time to see how this works. By doing this you save all of the photos and files added on your family tree and the media loads to your computer and can be viewed in 2012 FTM. The 1st sync took a fair amount of time. I would reduce the size of the window on your screen and then minimize you file so that you can still use your computer, like checking e-mail or other activities. When I was syncing my merged file(only had about 30 individuals added), it took a long time, so I canceled and resynced and it was less than a couple of minutes and then it was completed. I am just starting to learn how to work with this program.


  11. Gary Cantwell

    I have a medium sized tree with hardly any linked media.

    I am looking for a synch that has a one to many data relationship. Let me explain. I have several sets of cousins I work with, primarily my Cantwell clan. It would be great if I could select what names to include to upload, Called “Cantwell Clan” and have it synch this colletion. FTM should recognize this collection with the possibility of adding more names to the collection as the additional branches are discoverd and later associated with “Cantwell Clan”.

    Later, I would need to associate another group called “Hunsberger clan” and upload a new collection and have that synched.

    Is this even possible with the underlying database technology? Any hope of this dream? What do you think of the idea?


  12. Rick

    #2 Robert

    I was told by tech support that any individual less than 100 years old would be shown as a living person to anyone looking at your tree. You and your invited guests will see all of the information. This means included photos and files linked to the living people will not be viewable to the public. I don’t know how to verify this since when I look at my tree, I will see everything.

  13. Elvera

    I began using FamilyTree Maker many years before I joined Love TreeSync; My trees now read the same. I had already given up on doing double entries and therefore had two very different trees.

  14. Bettye R. "Polly" Clements

    You keep sending me Hints and I cannot get the info.I appreciate the updates but find it annoying. Can one join for a month at a time or does one have to prepay for a year. I do not want the trial period.

  15. Betty Re:# 16

    Yes, you can subscribe on a monthly basis and it will renew automatically every month but it is much more expensive to do it that way.

    US Discovery Membership
    Standard pricing is $22.95/mo = $275.40/yr
    Standard Pricing is $155.40/yr =$12.95/mo

    A savings of $120.00 a year!

    Similar savings are available on the World Explorer Membership.

    Those are the standard rates- there are even lower rates available for New subscribers.

    My cousin does it by the year, pays by credit card and sends her card company $12.95 a month to pay it off since she can’t afford to ‘pay’ for the year all at one time.

  16. Tom Plocinik

    So far, I like the new sync feature. I merged my on line and FTM file and it took some time. Now my next task is to figure out how to operate since I travel a lot and have been copying my FTM file and loading it on to my laptop to use on the road. Then do the reverse when I return home and add the new file to the desk top.

    Is there any way to continue to do this transfer process and also use the sync feature? I prefer to add bulk information using FTM and not Ancestry since it is much more convienent. Browsing and sharing is much more convienent on line.


  17. Jade

    What media/files attached to an AMTree individual, in addition to audio and video, will not download from the AMT to FTM2012? Will *pdf, *txt and other files download from AMT to FTM2012?

    Note the question is ~not~ about what will upload from FTM2012 to AMTree. It is only about what will ~download~ from AMTree to FTM2012.

    If FTM2012 does not have these files, will they be deleted from the AMT during synching?

    Is this information in the Knowledge Base?

  18. Jade Re:# 19

    Here is what the FTM2012 Help File Says:

    Uploading to and downloading from
    Family Tree Maker gives you tools for sharing family trees with You can easily download a tree from Ancestry or upload a tree to Ancestry. When you upload or download a tree, you have the option to maintain a link between the two trees. That means that you can make changes to either tree, and as Family Tree Maker starts up or exits, the changes from the one tree are made to the other automatically. Or you can synchronize the data between the trees with the click of a button within Family Tree Maker.

    Data that transfers correctly between Family Tree Maker and




    Person notes (only viewable by tree editors)

    Sources (sources that use the templates based on the book Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills are viewable online but can only be edited in Family Tree Maker)

    Source citations

    Source repositories

    Person media

    Fact media

    Citation media

    Data that does not synchronize

    Research notes

    Fact notes

    Relationship notes

    Media notes

    Relationship media

    Source media

    Saved charts and reports
    [End Quote]

  19. Jade

    Yes, Andy that is so. I found that.

    It does not answer the question, since it is about what does not upload and synch from FTM2012 to the AMT.

    I want to know what does not ~download~ from the AMT to FTM2012 besides Military Pages.

    One concern is: if 1285 files do not download from AMT to FTM2012, they will not exist if one has to upload from FTM2012 to AMT to make a new AMTree, in order to make synchronization work.

    Another concern is: if 1285 files do not download from AMTree to FTM2012, do they disappear from the existing AMTree if synchronization ~does~ initially work?

  20. Tana L. Pedersen

    #1 Arlene
    I’m sorry you didn’t receive a notification of the 2012 version. If you’ve previously registered your software, you should have received an upgrade email at that address. Fortunately, Family Tree Maker has a 90-day return policy. If you want to return your product and get the new 2012 version, please contact our Customer Service at 1-800-Ancestry.

    #2 Robert
    There is not a private or lock button that you can use for a media item. However, if the media item is attached to a living individual, the media item will be uploaded but cannot be seen by others unless you’ve invited them to your tree.

    #6 Heather
    Once the images have been downloaded to your desktop through Family Tree Maker, you will always have them. Even if you cancel your subscription, you won’t lose them.

    #7 Tom, I’m sorry to hear you’re having difficulties with TreeSync. I would like to add a few more suggestions. The “cleaner” your tree is, the better the sync will be. I would run the Find Duplicate People tool (Edit menu), make sure all my media items are linked up by running the Find Missing Media tool (Media menu). You might even try creating a backup of your tree, importing the backup and trying to sync that tree. Good luck.

    #18 Tom
    While you can’t sync a tree between two computers, you could continue to follow the process you have been using. Link your desktop to an online tree. When necessary, copy your desktop tree to your laptop. Make changes on your laptop. Then merge that laptop tree with your desktop tree and sync the changes to your online tree.

  21. Tana L. Pedersen

    #19 Jade
    Yes, PDF and text files will be downloaded from into Family Tree Maker. You are correct though that some things that are specific to Ancestry Member Trees will not be downloaded or synced with Family Tree Maker. These items are: comments, military pages, DNA results, photo tags, and web links. However, even though they won’t download into FTM 2012, they won’t be deleted in your Ancestry tree. But if you need to upload a NEW tree, those Ancestry-only items will not be included (because they were never downloaded). I hope this helps.

  22. Tom Plocinik

    #18 Tom

    Thanks Tana, merging the two trees is quite straightforward and I can do that when I have some heavy work on the tree.


  23. Jade

    Tana, thanks for your (unnumbered) #24. You directly addressed my question.

    I was particularly interested in what would ~download~ because, as you say, if FTM2012 can not be made to work and synchronize that way, there would be some losses from the existing tree if the user tried to synchronize by uploading ~from~ FTM2012 after deleting the existing AMTree.

  24. aul Delaney

    Just bought FTM for first time (albeit mainly for the 6 month membership) and find using the website and program together the best way to enter and search for info however after several successful days I know get “The last sync failed. An error occurred while “Downloading data from Ancestry.” Please try again later.” when trying to sync (much like post #52 Becky on last blog post), anyone else had this and whats the best way to fix it? I can’t see any kind of log to check exactly whats wrong.

  25. Delaney Re: #30

    Ancestry is aware of the problem. There are postings all over the Ancestry Site Comments Board, The Ancestry Improvements Board, and the FTM MAC Beta Board.

    To be quite blunt about it- the sync feature wasn’t ready forprime time when it was released and it seems that the same will be true when the feature is released in FTMM. It works great for small trees with few media files but for large file with lots of media…forget it!

  26. Tom Plocinik


    While everyone is commenting on the new SYNC feature, mostly positively, we hope that Ancestry does not forget that most of us serious genealogy people look for more. We look forward to the availability of many more data bases and increased efficiency in the FTM program. The annoying slowness after you hit the merge key in FTM 2012 is still there. When will that be worked on?

  27. Ann

    I downloaded my Ancestry tree so that I could merge it with my FTM 2012 tree, but no media downloaded with it. The sources downloaded and I can click on them to view them, but I have over 1700 photos attached to my Ancestry tree that did not download. I don’t want to continue with the merge and TreeSync, if the photos won’t download, as it would appear that I will have to reconnect or upload all of the photos all over again. And it does not look like I can try to re-download my Ancestry tree. Is this right? Maybe I am missing something? Am I snycing the merged FTM tree with my original Ancestry tree and it won’t matter that the photos did not download?

  28. Lindsay

    I have had great success at downloading my smaller Ancestry trees (AMT) with FMT 2012 + Tree Sync, including all the source images (like Census).
    But my larger tree (5,020 people) has issues due to the large number of source images (>3,000) that FTM tries to download.
    I am confused.
    I can read above that “source media” is not synchronized. So why is it doing just that so perfecly for a smaller tree, but has a problem with a larger tree? (AMT to FTM)
    Duff Wilson announced re FTM 2012 Beta 4, that “Media for Ancestry-attached records in online trees are now downloaded along with other tree media.” Do I correctly read that to mean “source media” WILL download (like Census images)?
    Technical Support thus far takes the view “those media items (source images) should not be downloading at all – so we dont know how to respond to the failure you are experiencing.”
    Perhaps there is a time or number limit that the download process will allow for source media ?

  29. Wayne Vaughn

    Like most of you I have a very large tree with 28,000+ people, 3,800+ photos and 22,000+ records. When I first downloaded and linked and sync’ed my main tree things went so so. It just took forever to get it downloaded. I soon found out that some of the media (photo’s) were only half image files. The image was saved to the (dir) on my laptop but the bottom part of the image was missing when viewed in the program. Then the program seemed to work for a while (other then some half image files) and then 5 days later I got “The last sync failed Analyzing online changes error please try later”. Now the program never wants to sync the two trees and keeps giving me the same error over and over.
    Just by chance yesterday I tried it again and the same error came up but on the main FTM screen in the SYNC box where it states last sync and ect at the bottom it gave a red error message “Media: 7170 not complete process error”. I like the idea of the SYNC but I hope they find a fix for this soon.

  30. Mark

    I have recently loaded upgraded to FM2012 and find the sync to be excellent.

    However it appears that many people have media included in their FTM that they do not want to make public even for deceased ancestors and therefore many more trees will be made private.

    If this happens it will reduce the value of an ancestory subscription.

    It must be possible to make the default on a media item to be public but give the contributor the option to make selected media private. Can this be done in an upgrade ASAP.

  31. Ann Hill

    I am using FTM 2009 (Windows) and am considering upgrading to FTM 2012. My question is – Can I install the ‘upgrade’ version of FTM 2012 or do I have to install a ‘full’ version.
    I do not want to assume that the 2012 upgrade is backward compatible when I haven’t installed the in-between versions.
    Ann H

  32. Jeff Jahn

    5 Robert Christian

    I had the same problem with some birth records so I thought i would add them as media but not link them to anything. Alas they uploade to atm and i had to quickly delete them.

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