Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Site Features, Website

Today, we’re letting a couple of our product managers tell you about some exciting website updates that will make your family history research a bit easier, and – we hope – a bit more fun! Without further ado, here they are.

New in Interactive Viewer – Related Content Panel

We’re really excited to offer this update to the interactive image viewer. You’ve spoken up that the new viewer has been suffering for the lack of Member Connect and suggested records, and we’re happy to announce that these features are now part of the interactive viewer. Previously known as the Member Connect panel, this is currently the most requested feature through the image viewer’s feedback link, and is a fantastic way to discover new content.  The Related Content panel includes Suggested Records and also Related Trees.



Give it a try and see how you like it! You can look forward to more of your suggestions being implemented in the interactive viewer as we continue to align this feature with your needs.



New in Search Results: Research summary and smart filtering

Do you search from your tree?  If so, you’ll soon see some enhancements to your search results.  Records that you’ve attached to your tree are now grouped at the top of the results list, organized in alpha-numeric order to help you quickly see what you’ve saved and where you might have research gaps.  The research summary section can be collapsed to give more room to the search results list, or expanded to compare your search results to records you’ve already saved.



We’re also introducing smart filtering, which lets you hide results from collections where you’ve already found an ancestor’s record.  Many collections like census or death records are likely to contain one record for a person.  When you search from your tree, this new feature filters out results from collections where you’ve already saved a record, making it easier to discover new records.  For example, if you’ve saved a 1920 census entry for someone in your tree, smart filtering will hide other 1920 census entries when you search from that person’s page.   Smart filtering can be easily turned on or off from the results page to show the full or filtered results list.



Learn more about the Research summary and smart filtering in the knowledge base.


We’re releasing these new features gradually over the next two weeks, so expect to see these changes soon. Once you’ve tried them, we’d love your feedback on what you think and how they can be improved.  Look for the “Send feedback” link at the top of the research summary section.

Best regards,



There are always improvements underway, and we value your feedback on everything current, new, and upcoming. Thanks for reading, and we hope you enjoy!


  1. TC

    Very exciting news indeed! I know I have to get used to the new viewer, but I am one of those, at times, that just appreciates the simplicity of the old vs a new(er) version of an item.

    But thank you for continuing to examine the site and made enhancements Ancestry!

  2. Michele Fendler

    I feel that the old way was better.

    Me personally, I am all for upgrading but I didn’t think anything was wrong with how it was before and feel that the new version is slowing it down for one thing and it’s getting too complicated/busy. I don’t think it should be this complicated. I actually am very computer literate and just prefer simple sites. I just want to find what I am looking for and that’s it.

    On that note I do appreciate everything you guys do and that you care about what your customer want.

    I could get used to things if it didn’t feel like it slowed it down.

    Thanks for all the hard work you guys do!

  3. observer

    The question I’m sure that you hate to hear or read but I’ll ask it anyway: will “Old Search” still be there to use/

  4. Amy

    Thanks for the updates, but I would really like to see something done with the sort function so that I could sort by year, location, military page, etc. It would be SO helpful when preparing for trips to graveyards and other historical sites. It would also help in teaching children history–it is much more real to them when you can say your ancestor was here, what do you think his life was like.

  5. barbara james

    oh so funny , i just mentioned to my hubby i wish there was a way to see if you have all ready attached that information, oh if this is what you are explaining i love it, ,alot of people have more than one tree and they forget if they go back,
    alot do not like change , me one of them, but i always end up learning the new way ( takes time ) but it is usually for the good.
    to me frustration is i have all the information on someone but looking for source and nothing, heart breaking,
    thank you for all the help you give us, you are working just as hard as we are,you do make it alot easier for us than have to run around from town town state to state , thank you

  6. I have been waiting on this for quite a while because I often do research from Droid phone and there are many times that I cannot open a record using the current viewer. So, please make a comment on whether these changes will also the be available on mobile devices.

    Also, please note that there are many times where search results show previously found records already attached to a profile page however, somehow the lines/rows identifying previously saved records overlap each other, making it hard to read.

    Thank you very much for revising the search feature so that records saved will no longer appear in future searches. What a great help that will be.

  7. Sprowlseeker

    Yay! Two of my suggestions have been implemented! It’s great to know really listens to the customers wishes. I’m going to love the new smart filtering and the research summary Thank you,

  8. Sharon Brogdon

    Very exciting upgrades. I can’t wait to try them. I just spent three weeks renaming all the media on my tree so I could find things. It would be great if the option of renaming and captioning media popped up when you attached it to your person. I want all my files consistently named whether they are genealogy or personal photos, Here’s my format: surname, first, married, type record, location, date. Sample: Irvin William census Monroe KY 1880. Thanks.

  9. The smart viewer is good, but what happens if you find a census while searching for the one you want and find and save one of the same name in case it comes up in further research. I am still waiting for less results and more results at the top with what I ask for in the search.

  10. Jen White

    Will there be a “check” next to the items in the “suggested records” list to indicate items I’ve already attached them to my tree OR will they just not show up in my list? ALSO, When I open a record in that “suggested records” list, it’s hard to remember which ones I’ve looked at and which ones I haven’t. This is more difficult when so many records have the same name (Passenger List, 1860-1945) etc. Thanks for your continued help!

  11. Paula Rink

    I’m always glad to see “improvements”. When I saw the “smart search” words, I thought maybe you’d improved the general search. I’ve complained for YEARS about this! I put the birth year (e.g., 1794), and the state lived in —- and in my search results I have to wade through page after page of results from 1967 and from every state in the union! SUCH a waste of my time. And I will never understand why …….

  12. BEE

    I’m not sure if these things I find annoying have been addressed, but I find it frustrating having to go back page by page instead of “back to record”, and having to go page by page on census records, ship manifests, etc. instead of being about to type in a page number and go directly to that page.
    answer to #5, sadly, “old search” is leaving. Even with our “input” and the “tweaking” of “new search”, I still don’t like it, and I doubt I ever will, but we won’t have an option. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it – seeing all that “clutter” on my screen will not be fun!

  13. Bonnie McNeil Lampert

    All the changes sound very positive. I am excited to begin using them.
    I hope they really do simplify searching for our ancestors.

  14. Kathy Gold

    I really appreciate the new features, but still wish you would leave the “old search” alone. I hate the new search and all of the results you get with it.

  15. Michel Bryson

    I agree with Amy; I’d like to be able to sort the columns in Search results. When you consider partial names, transcription errors or common names, being able to sort and weed through results would be so helpful.

    Now – if we could have a way to search our own tree, that would be helpful. Recently, I had a physical copy of a 1942 directory for Fond du Lac, WI. “Who are the people in my tree who were living in the Fond du Lac area in 1942?” It would have been so nice to have a way to answer that question! I had to scroll through the entire list of names and look them up in the directory. For two trees, more than 1,000 people total.

  16. Annie

    The more stuff we have to deal with to find what we want, the longer it will take…UNLESS…you buy/have a very fast computer, period. Better get out your credit card and prepare to upgrade your hardware.

  17. Kia Fennell

    I agree that some sort of sort feature to help prepare for research trips or for reporting location, type of record, time period, etc.. when data mining a collection would be great. Sometimes when you come across new or updated information or are planning a research trip you need to “remember” who in the tree that information pertains to. Having the app on my phone helps but having a list would be even more helpful.
    I do appreciate the new features and encourage you to continue making Ancestry better. I also like seeing that you have listened to suggestions made by us the consumer. Thank you.

  18. Crista Cowan

    #14 Bee – You can go “back to record” from an image by clicking the arrow on the top left-hand side of the image. And you can jump ahead to a specific image number. Do you see where the image number is listed? It says, X of Y with a left and right arrow outside of the numbers? In the X space just type the number of the image you want to view and hit enter to jump to that image number. Make sense?

  19. Edna Hopper-Zeyak

    There is one thing that I would love to see. When I find a person on one of the older census and I connect it to that person it doesn’t give me the option to connect it to other family members also on the same census page like it does on newer census. I would like to have an option to attach to the others the same way as the ‘Attach to another person’ function in the Attach Image function does. The way it is now; if there are 6 family members on a 1860 census page I have to keep going back to the same page and attach it to each person separately.

  20. Edna Hopper-Zeyak

    Another important function that is needed is a SORT function. When I pull up a list of all my family members in the Look up, I would love to see an option to double click the top ‘Column Header’ name and sort that column the same as in Excel. I try to always fill in the information in my columns with the same format and being able to sort them this way would be so much easier when I’m look for matched of the same information; i.e birth or death. If this isn’t possible, than if I could have a function to download the information to Excel so I could import it into Excel sort it from there. I have been able to copy and paste information, but it takes so much time to delete out all the extra STUFF that copies over.

  21. Beth

    So far I do not like ANY of the new updates. Especially changing the viewer. I like the old viewer with the 50, 100, 150 200%. Easier for me to read and find what I am looking for. Don’t like when you put a name in search box on a profile the stupid highlighting Why is that necessary. Doesn’t work anyway. Every similar name highlights. Don’t like it and don’t need it. The font change is horrible. Bring back the old font or let us choose the font we want for the names of our ancestors. The so called changes have gone backwards to real early computer fonts and not the choices of the fonts today. Great now when or if I need a census record again for someone I won’t be able to find it.

  22. BEE

    Hi Crista, thank you so much for addressing my “annoyance”! I did find the first one, but I’m lost on the second. All I see is the number, the number of pages in that census or manifest, and the two directional arrows.
    Do you have anything on youtube on this subject?
    I wouldn’t think it would make any difference that I’m still using “old search”? Sorry, I refuse to give it up until I have to, and I’m too afraid of not finding my way back if I “experiment”!

  23. Annie

    I have found when I look at my pedigree/tree view that there is a new “thing”. There is a right hand pop out with a little info on a person, which is NOT what I want. It covers up the last generations on the right of the tree, the oldest folks. I want to see the whole tree unencumbered with any pop outs. Now there is extra clicking to close the thing and it sometimes doesn’t stay closed. I want to see the oldest ancestor and get to their profile/overview/timeline with the entire family group. I don’t want to have to do this every time and I want it to stay closed…all the time.

    I can deal with the tiny icons you now have in another little box (where did the English words go!) but the way it is now requires extra steps and it is more time consuming and clumsy. This is not an improvement! It’s a hindrance! I don’t need or want pop outs of any kind, ever. I need a way to close them once and for all.

  24. Judy Spencer

    I am not ‘happy’ while searching for a specific person, with speicifc info in order to eleminate hundreds of other people with names that don’t even begin to match. I click on search, then end up with 9,000 records that I don’t even recognize. When I’m looking for “ZZZ” Why do I get “GGG” or “WWW”. I don’t want to sift through every state when I type in Massachusetts or MA. I do not want to see everyone in Oregon or California, I want MASSACHUSETTS! Lately, I have thought about dropping Ancestry even though I have been a member since 2002! When you dropped Gale-Thompson Group as your site designers, you made a hugh mistake. (Thanks for the space, I hope I’m not the only one who feels that Ancestry is making things complicated to satisfy a bunch of people who make it a practice to make unnecessary changes for the sake of changes.)

  25. Sandy

    Please bring back the Famous Relatives link. That was a great feature and I miss it terribly. It helped me in my research greatly.

  26. heather

    I love being able to see the records found. A lot of the time a record gets attached from when multiple family members from a family are in the collection, but it shows up again.

  27. RVcook

    Please leave OLD SEARCH alone! I have been a member for over 10 years and use OLD SEARCH exclusively because it functions much cleaner and returns more specific results. What is the sense of being able to enter in specific information into NEW search in an effort to narrow the results only to have information returned that has NOT been narrowed????? Ridiculous!

    Simply put: the NEW search is H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E!

  28. Dorothy Lindquist

    Thanks! Both of these updates will make it so much easier to use I have heard several people in our group say how much they wished this would happen.

  29. Robin Bittner

    I do not know if this glitch is a result of the ‘new’ stuff going into effect, but yesterday and again today, I am unable to attach records to anyone. Click on the record and it changes to the record screen, but nothing happens, and the only option is to go back home. Have tried to attach records to several people, it is not working.
    The new view screen is horrible. It takes forever (I have a relatively new computer) for the image to become clear. Also, please move the page number block from the center bottom of the screen. When saving an image the choice is have that rectangle blocking part of my image or go smaller to avoid it and be unable to read the info.
    Please fix the attach record glitch. Its annoying to pay for something that does not work.

  30. Rhonda

    I don’t like the thought of losing the old search. It give me a better return, than that new search. I might as well just do a old school on the census, because the index is only as good as the person that did the indexing. It is just a guide and only that. I do thank all that do indexing. I just wish that ancestry would give them a chart on old school lettering and spelling and abb. for names. Here lately I have been doing manual viewing of records. Lots of cutting off of pages here in the last few years. Sounds like quality of the old days of ancestry don’t mean anything anymore. I don’t even watch WDOTYR anymore because I just scream at it

  31. Linda E

    Personally I don’t like the new format, find I am having to go back and delete persons I already have in my tree. I know new changes take some getting use to, but I would like the option of using the old format too. Let me choose which I prefer to use, since I am the one paying for the service.

  32. Sara

    I agree with all those who are complaining about searching that doesn’t change when you add criteria – state, date of birth, etc. Why do I get all those Massachusetts birth records when the person was clearly born in Kentucky? It infuriates me to have to wade through unrelated items. Second, please get the sourcing corrected on the 1920 census. I’m talking about the box that pops up when you press “s” while looking at the census record. It no longer gives the roll, page, enumeration district. It upsets my work flow to have to go back to the previous page just to get this info.

  33. Sara

    Forgot to say that I, too, hate the highlighting when searching for someone to whom to attach a record. It obscures the names so that they can’t be read.

  34. Disgusted

    That right hand fly out needs to be eliminated! It pops out with no clicks and covers up the fifth generation on the tree/pedigree view. It won’t stay closed. You may think you have added an exciting new feature but this only excites my anger and raises my blood pressure. The darn thing won’t stay closed and flies out at random. It’s hard to find a neutral place for my mouse cursor in the tree view. It does nothing to add to my finding records and increases my computer time on Ancestry. Please give us an option to keep it closed.

    Why oh why do you continue to just change the way things are done with no options for us to choose how we do our research. For the past several years this crap has been going on. It is nerve racking!

    Get the programmers busy with adding a way to sort the shoebox!

  35. Bill

    I’ve not been able to bring up the site since the update. I get nothing but text column down the left side of the window.

  36. Mary Kinsey

    It appears that some of the changes are just for the “sake of change.” I find the green shading on the screens very hard on the eyes. I agree that highlighting portions of names on the “attach” function makes it difficult to read the names. It just seems unecessary–we’re already on the list and it is presumed that we can read it. Why the shading?? As a constant/experience user and genealogist, I appreciate how difficult it is to keep everyone satisfied but, keeping in mind your demographics –KISS–“keep it simple stupid”–works for me.

  37. kkashley

    When I find someone on a census roll in say “Smith Township” it would be nice to be able to SEARCH just that township.
    I called and was told that this function is not available. If I’m mistaken I’ll be happy. If you can add it, I’ll be overjoyed.
    It would save scrolling through 200 pages on the chance that another relative lives nearby.

  38. Merilyn

    I appreciate all the updates lately, it seems to make things friendlier! I really like that it shows what I have already attached. #35 – duplicates can be “merged” LOVE this option! I have twice deleted people in the old format & blown info 🙁 #3 – me too! #22 – I agree, it would be very helpful! #23 – this too would be very helpful! #27 – I agree with the State specific issue, I too would like to have only what I have asked for #41 – also sounds like a good idea if doable! I myself really like the new viewer scrolling actions.

  39. The good and and bad

    Please add an option to keep the right hand fly-out closed when in the pedigree/tree page or the family view. This is so bad and useless. It is time consuming to keep closing it. It covers the fifth generation in a tree view.

    I would like to have options to not use new tools that I find do not help at all with my research. They get in the way. Every time you add something new, please always give us a way to NOT have to deal with it. Ancestry is wasting my time and money on trivial stuff that I can’t tolerate and doesn’t advance my research.

    The options can be located in the preferences sections We could then set up our pages to be “clean” of fru-fru stuff.

    There are some good things. You do have the records and scans I need, althought it requres creative thinking to find them sometimes due to poor indexing. The merge tool seems to work well but it has been around in stand alone programs for years. The hints the system finds are usually on target, not all the time, but considering the bad indexing they are quite good.

    I don’t use the family page because it is too spread out but I have to go throught it to get to the pedigree view and the fly-out is in the family view too. Allow us to customize our search tools, please!

    Giving us options would be the greated tool you could give us. It would be very useful to have a way to sort the shoebox. It is useful but not when it get to big. Sorting by names would allow us to delete unecessary ones and use less of Ancestry’s resouces.

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  41. BEE

    Well, I doubt that a message to this very old blog that was supposedly closed 6 Sep will be read by anyone, but I have to vent. Went to a tree and did a search on this person: Searching for…Name:Rudolf Irsa
    Birth:1874, Austria
    Lived In (Residence):Suffolk, New York; Bedford, Westchester, New York; East Hampton, Suffolk, New York; East Hampton, Suffolk, New York Death:1940, New York
    Family Members:Father:Peter Irsa, Spouse:Anna David, Children:Rudolph Anthony Irsa, Peter P Irsa, Mary Anna Irsa, Siblings:Gabrielle Irsa, Ferdinand Frank Irsa Marriage:1904, Austria
    R.M Hersey Age: 65 Birth Place: Florida
    Spouse Name: Malanor Hersey [Geneva Hersey]
    Father’s Name: Clyde Hersey
    Household Members:
    R.M Hersey 65
    Malanor Hersey 41
    Nettie Hersey 19
    Beatrice Hersey 13
    Gladys Hersey 11
    Martin Hersey 8
    Clyde Hersey 21
    Geneva Hersey 18
    James R Hersey 2

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