Posted by Ancestry Team on February 24, 2014 in Site Features, Website

A new sliding control is coming to the Ancestry search function over the next couple of weeks. Located in the upper-left corner of the search results page, it will make it easy to quickly broaden or narrow your search results.  Don’t see the search results you were expecting? Simply drag one or more sliders from left to right to quickly modify your results.  The slider position shows how closely your search terms should be matched.  With all the sliders to the left, your results are matched at the broadest level, and moving one or more sliders to the right will display more exact matches.


When you move the slider, a tip box will show how closely your search term will be matched.  Once you’ve set the sliders to the levels you want, tap or click the Update button to see your results with the new settings.


In this first update, you’ll be able to use slider controls on these fields:

  • First and last name of the person being searched
  • Birth and Death facts
  • One “Any event” fact
  • One residence location

Other criteria in your search will still be available to edit using the “Edit Search” link and will be noted in the “Other” section just above the “Edit search” link.

You’ll start seeing the sliding controls gradually over the next few weeks, so look for them soon on your search results page.



  1. Alice

    Love any and all improvements to searching, I just wish there was a way to exclude results from my own tree. I often spend a lot of time opening and viewing my own information which is displayed as results.

  2. Dan Davidson Sr

    PLEASE give us the ability to lift a whole BRANCH from our trees and start another tree or just add it to another tree….i.e…..move my Mothers Maiden name portion from my Dad (My blood line) tree and start a new one based on my mothers blood line.

  3. Noreen

    Dan, if you have Family Tree Maker you have the ability to export branches. Check out It is fantastic!

  4. FHC Librarian

    You can tweak and tweak your search parameters forever, but until the indexes for all databases are better, there will always be problems with the search.

    The indexes are the foundation of the databases. Bad foundations, bad results, or more work to find your people.

  5. How long do the new slider values persist after you change them,? Is it just for that session or are they permanent until changed again, or something else?

  6. Ann

    The sliders showed up in Chrome for me several days ago and in Firefox today.

    Sadly, the “exact” portion is not working, whether with sliders or in the traditional format. When I try to search for someone born in Arkansas and select exact, I get people with similar names born in Tennessee and Missouri.

    Please – quit making pretty pictures and fix the underlying search engine!

  7. John Grimes

    The problem with Anc is not that they don’t have ”controls” already, they do. The problem is they DO NOT WORK. And if you check just two ”exact”, even if you know for certain the information you have is correct (and available through, for example, RootsIreland or FamilySearch), Anc will come back with their infamous “no records available white screen. Or, in a search you will find nothing worthwhile. Then you add an exact date and BINGO!, suddenly the mighty computers at Anc CAN find the formerly unavailable record. What good is it having computers incapable of searching unless they are provided with absolutely exact info? Why should we pay for this kind of “service”?

  8. Ken Hinds

    Are the slider settings going to be persistent? In other words, once I set all the sliders to Exact Only, will they stay that way for all subsequent searches?

    I honestly can’t understand why anyone would ever want a result that doesn’t match what they searched for. If I specify first name “Bob”, how could a record with first name “David” possibly be what I’m looking for?

  9. I welcome an enhanced ability to control which results will appear.

    I would also welcome an enhancement that would allow us to sort those results in different ways. For example, we might want to sort by birthdate, to see them in that order. Or by state of birth to view all those born in a state in one grouping for that state. Or by county and township if we find everyone in certain county. This is not limiting which results appear, but adding the ability to view those results in helpful ways.

  10. Katharine Nester

    @Ann and @John – Thanks to your reports and some reports of others, we found an issue in a recent index update which is causing exact not to match exactly for a number of our key collections on location. I suspect that is the issue you are having as well – if you can message me directly (KatharineNester38) I can see if that is the issue or if it is something else.

    @Ken & @Dan – The slider positions are persistent within a search for a person – once you change the focus of the search they are reset to the settings you had on the search form. You can set the slider positions for a search from the search form if you use the advanced search form and click on the “Use default settings” links below the fields.

    @Everyone – A lot of good suggestions in your comments that I’ve been noting for our roadmap around improving search. Thank you for the feedback!

  11. Jim Barnes


    User interfaces for research tools need to be stable, efficient, and functional. Cute, pretty, and visually attractive don’t enter the equation. Changes for the sake of change are not enhancements. They require a user to change learned behavior, thus reducing efficiency and progress. Every change made to the user interface on Ancestry for the last several years could be removed tomorrow, and you would have a better, more efficient interface for the user. With one solitary exception, I can’t recall an “improvement” or “enhancement” being either. Some of those changes have reduced functionality, some require greater user input to accomplish the same purpose, and others increase bandwidth and cpu usage. In comparison to a few years ago, it now takes three to seven times as long to accomplish the same amount of research.

    It would be difficult to generate a more perfect example of this major problem plaguing Ancestry for the last few years. This new “feature” being announced appears to provide no additional functionality to the search tool. What it provides is a purely cosmetic change to the interface. And in allowing this useless new cosmetic feature to be implemented, management has allowed developers to break the underlying search engine. I’m sorry, but I’m not buying the “issue in a recent index update” explanation. Indexing wouldn’t cause a search engine to ignore a parameter set to “exact only” match, unless that indexing was a parameter modification required to satisfy the modified operation of the search engine. Monkeying with the search engine to implement a useless cosmetic change to the user interface is the far more likely culprit. And yes, I’m having this same problem with the search engine. You have admitted search isn’t functional, a customer service rep confirmed it midday, and it is still not functioning. Ancestry as a site is completely useless without the search engine functioning properly.

    The user interfaces are the tools we use to accomplish a task; that task being family research. No change should ever be considered unless it actually improves functionality and efficiency for the user. Changes being made by Ancestry over the last few years are the equivalent of the controls in your car changing position and functionality every time you open the door, and suggest Ancestry management disdain for paying customers. It’s quite sad and disheartening to watch what was once the premier site for family research slowly destroy itself for no apparent reason.

    Forgive my venting, but one simply couldn’t make up a better example of the apparently intentional destruction of your service, and disdain for your customers, than this announcement provides. And I did make certain I wasn’t reading “The Onion” before posting.

  12. Bob Childers

    Another “DUMB” enhancement! The last time you Enhanced the search the search function criteria box you took the “Search” button away from the top of the box. Now there is only one button and it’s down at the bottom. That means users have to scroll (no page down function) to hit the search button. And scroll and scroll. All the way through parent’s name, spouse names, sibling names, etc. most changes of searches are done up at the top. PUT A SEARCH BUTTON BACK AT THE TOP!

    Another “Dumb” enhancement is the “Story View” POP-UP. Make story view a click-on button. The d…ed box stays up until you go way past it. It’s a real pain having a pop-up!! Make it a click-on.

  13. Sara S Nolan

    I whole-heartedly endorse Barbara Snow’s suggestion that you fix it so we can sort search results. This would be a HUGE benefit to me. Like most folks, I have some situations where I know names and maybe only one or two other things, but I know those for certain, or I can reason out the most likely based upon other factors. With the ability to sort results, I could for instance sort by state or date and move a lot of unlikely results to the bottom–unlikely from the perspective of a human who has some knowledge rather than only a computer algorithm.

  14. Dianne Kiyomoto

    Need to FIX the search results using the “U.S., Final Accountability Rosters of Evacuees at Relocation Centers, 1942-1946” database–especially the “Tule Lake, March 1946, Volumes I and II” database. Some names do NOT show up in search results, which should belisted for California (Tule Lake) despite the fact that the names ARE on the Tule Lake scanned documents.

  15. Jo Walsh

    I would also like to see the ‘next page/1 2 3 4 next’ option on the results page be moved to top of the results page. Often the scroll bar sticks and one cannot get to the bottom of the page to click on the next page option. So then one has to abandon the search for the time being until maybe next time you try again it works. This happens too frequently.

  16. Laura H

    Terrific.. lately the search results I GET are not what is being asked for entirely. I ask for Minnesota I get some other state. If I had wanted another state I would have asked for it or left it blank.
    SUGGESTION : The Timeline ADD FACT button used to be at both the top and bottom of the Timeline. Now it is only at the top. PLEASE PUT THE 2ND BUTTON BACK!!

  17. Scott K

    I’m not a fan of the new search feature at Ancestry. The new “improvements” are NOT. I would like the option to use the old search feature reinstated.

  18. LuAnn Dobson

    Oh boy, just reading the comments makes me nervous. I haven’t been on Ancestry in several days due to illness, normally it’s a daily visit. My “Old Search” is gone. I couldn’t embrace your last new search, not looking forward to this.

  19. Lois Kessler

    When I’m looking up a 2word name, I just want info on that name without getting cities or other people with one of the names included in it. I find it to be a waste of time and research when I keep coming up with material just because one of my ancestor’s names is in a town or county name. Thanks.

  20. Gloria Thompson

    I agree with Jim Barnes’ comments. And please modify this new Basic Search page to be useful, as the Old format had been. When I tested the New Search Format for the indexing of the databases using my great-grandfather [born & died in Monmouth Co. NJ in 1800s], I got over 3,815,000 results! The categories showing were for England&Wales–with over 703,000! Why? Nothing showed for Monmouth Co or NJ or USA=USELESS….Perhaps you should hire some local-historians, genealogists &/or geographers to your programming team. For doing professional/academic research, I don’t need a Green Leaf showing up…I want reliable indexes to the databases, with a clear search format. Thanks.

  21. Lillian Robinson

    Not sure if I will renew my membership at Ancestry now that you have ruined the search engine. Don’t have all the time in the world to search through all the names in the world with the same last names I’m looking for even though I just wanted results from one state. If I ask for George I don’t need to see every Tom, Dick and Harry. Bring back the old search.

  22. A craftsman becomes an expert by selecting and using only the best tools. The woodcarver who becomes a professional artist uses a knife that fits his hand and he can use as an extension of his hand and his art. He does not have to think about the knife, the tool, as he is working. It works as expected, every time, or he discards it.

    Those of us who work as professional genealogists use Ancestry as a tool. We have worked long and hard to hone our use and understanding of this tool to the point that we do not have to think about the GUI. We can work quickly and seamlessly depending on the knowledge that our use of the Ancestry database tool is as efficient as we can possibly make it, due to our own years of practice and refinement.

    Ancestry has two levels of users – the experts and the novices. When they made this change to the Search, it appears they were trying to make the database search process simpler for novices. The effect was to make it more difficult for the experts. Novices may appreciate a cute and easy GUI, but experts don’t need it. We don’t need to be addressed as the lowest common denominator, which it appears Ancestry is doing. We do NOT need the search engine to try to help us, guess at what we asked for, or provide us with thousands of spurious results in an effort to help us feel ‘successful’ and give us a warm and fuzzy feeling about doing family history. We are working.

    We are experts, we are skilled users of the tool you have taken away. Many of us have been devoted subscribers for over 10 years (I’m in my 13th year). I would respectfully request that you restore the option of the Old Search for those of us who find it preferable. You have interrupted our work flow by forcing us to concentrate on the disfunctionality of the tool rather than on the work we are trying to accomplish. You have cost us time and effort. This will be passed on (in some cases) to our clients. This is not a good move for the advancement of the profession, though Ancestry may see it is a good move for the advancement of their bottom line (though frankly, I don’t see how).

  23. Nancy Nee

    I fell into the “Improvements” yesterday when trying to pull up someone in the 1930 census, that I HAD pulled up last week. I knew the address, the people in the house, the town, county etc….and guess what? Even with “exact” toggled all the way to the right, I came up with every other name, state and county, but not my family! How could that possibly be?! Firstly, when one enters “exact” they should be able to get “exact”. Secondly, why were my people not coming up at all?!! So I double checked my records on my computer and found my copy of the 1930 census. Re-entered the info again (for the 4th time) and still -nothing. This really is a fiasco!

  24. Amen to restoring Old Search–which worked just fine. The enhancements are no improvement; in fact, they make the task of focusing a search that much harder.
    If I’m searching for a specific person in 1820 in Schuylkill County PA, I don’t want to see the 1940 census or links to info from around the globe. Pretty doesn’t count. We want a system that works.

  25. Rita Clements

    Please, Please, bring back the OLD SEARCH. I am a very experienced genealogist and the old search worked beautifully for me. It is not that I don’t like change. However, change should be an improvement, this new one is not an improvement. It makes researching much harder.

  26. Tree Leave

    Suggestion..they need to after you input info into the search boxes and click “Update” to search..Have a visiable window of what you have typed in..I keep having to click edit to go back and recheck spelling dates family members et etc all that you can fill in..This is not user friendly ..I really need to see it I am a visual learner goes right outta my head when I cant see it

    I see the original name only yr of birth and place birth ..wife and children no shows…Typing names of children and wife into the “Keyword Search” option will not show then either!

    Too many steps now that are not necessary..

    GO BACK to Prior Search worked wasnt broke..we pay for this I appreciate it we were valued more as customers PAYING CUSTOMERS!

  27. Anne Pratt Slatin

    Sorry, but the new search is cumbersome, inefficient, and downright mal-conceived. The “improvement” has slowed my research considerably! I’ve been a premium paying customer for years, and I am wondering if I really want to renew my subscription. Please go back to Prior Search and stop all this monkeying with a product that was fine the way it was! I can only guess that my subscription price will rise to cover the cost of this stupidity, unfortunately.

  28. Claire Ravi

    This does NOT work! I slide the location over to the right and type in VA because I know my ancestor is from virginia and get results from England and Mass and everywhere else. I have found this ancestor easily before, but could find no trace of him in this really dumb new search. BRING BACK your OLD search algorithm .

  29. Robin Hanson

    Add my voice to the professional genealogists who are having a horrible time with the new search. I have to wonder if this is intentional since Ancestry has an “in-house” genealogy service. Remember when they initially allowed us to work as experts for people looking for help with their family research? They took that away and the next thing you knew they had their own researchers. Now, they’ve figured out another way to try to pull in the revenue once more from the independent professional genealogists by destroying our opportunity to conduct research. I believe their idea is that the company hopes that people will be forced to use their in-house researchers. Ha, I wonder if the Old Search method is still available in-house? Yes, I agree it is all about money and this is just the next step in consolidating control of the money being spent on genealogical research.

  30. Phyllis Porter

    Why the need to SIMULATE OLD SEARCH?
    There are SO many who really hate the New Search. Bring back Old Search.

  31. Jerry

    Another dumb change from just for the sake of change that doesn’t do anything different and is not a help. Just wasted time figuring it out!

  32. Deborah Gaus

    I don’t like the new way of searching. It’s very confusing. When I do a new search, it’s says I have no matches yet my hints says there are matches. The search doesn’t even come up with the records I already have in my tree.

    I have people in my tree listed by their given name, yet they used a different name. Before I could change their name in the search, now it searches by the name in my tree only. This is not working out well.

    I have been a member of Ancestry for 12 years. I may not renew my membership this year and it would be a shame as I spend many hours a day using this site. It would be nice if people had an option of which way they prefer to search. This really sucks!

  33. Dale McKinley

    I can concure with many of the comments appearing about the new search. I have been with Ancestry since it started, so have seen many improvements and changes. The ability to just hit ENTER is so basic to searching, yet works in very few searches. Going down to the bottom and clicking on search is cumbersome at best. Being able to sort a search would be a great advantage. The biggest thing is no longer being able to choose a page while viewing images. The page numbers are there, but only forward and back is available. The limit of 50 results per page also slows down searching results.

  34. Toni

    I won’t be renewing. My time is up and so is’s. Bu-bye! I’ll be taking my tree and going somewhere else. And I DON’T mean to familysearch! Too bad, too, because I had just recommended this site to a totally new to genealogy person. But since the “improvements” I can’t even give her directions on how to use the site. She will end up with one of those trees filled with green leaf hints and the people won’t be hers.

  35. BarbaraRWalker

    I don’t like this new slide system… I can not find information .. it tells me to put in more information “Hello” if I had more information why would I need to look it up on… I like to do the hunt and find… this is not allowing for misspellings etc…. Please reinstate old search engines … or choices… this is not worth the money.

  36. Allie Bishop

    I’d rather have a chromosome browser. The filter is meh and I haven’t seen any obvious change in search results.

  37. Britt Clark

    It would be nice if they would actually add ANY kind of useful search and filter tools to the sorely lacking AncestryDNA section of the website. The search features there are abysmal. Start there before adding “sliders”. I’m extremely frustrated with the poor filter tools to search through my DNA matches.

  38. Kay Mix

    Please bring back the OLD SEARCH. You are trying to make the site simpler, but in the long run you have made it more difficult.
    I understand you think you are doing what is best, but NOT.

  39. Mary Borchard

    I am seriously considering deleting all my family trees and not renewing my membership until the OLD SEARCH is brought back. I have been a member with you for over 12 years! I believe you will lose a lot of faithful members. I can’t find anything on the NEW SEARCH!! or should I say I find millions of records that I don’t care to go through and then can’t find what I am looking for. Please bring back the old search!

  40. Mary Borchard

    Please bring back the OLD SEARCH!!! The new search is no good!

    I have been a member for 12 years and will hate to give up my membership which I will do if the old search is not brought back.

  41. Joann Salvo

    I do not like the new search. Please bring back the old search. Researching was always fun, but not any more. I have been a member for 12 years and I am planning to cancel my subscription. Why keep it if I don’t use it any more. Ancestry is a pay site and ancestry needs to listen to the users.

  42. Cathryn Worden

    It is too bad that no one will listen to those of us that just want the old search back so we can find what we want when we want it and how we want it. Although some people may be impressed with getting 7 million records for a search, I am only interested in the 50 items that are applicable to my search. The new search is not “user friendly”. It is more work, less exact and frustrating. Give us our old search back!

  43. CW Morris

    I am, as well, a subscriber of Ancestry since the beginning and I am
    not happy with the new search function. Using you site use to be an
    everyday experience. I now find that I use Ancestry ever few weeks.
    The searching takes longer, I get random results and eventually leave
    your site. Wanting a new copy of a record I copied from your site years ago, has become cumbersome and often I simply can’t find it. The
    Function of reading/copying original books, is impossible to use as compared to before. Bottom line to Ancestry is that you were my go-to
    site and I no longer visit you regularly. Please follow your customers advise.

  44. dar

    I just want to make sure to add my 2 cents in the hopes that someone at Ancestry cares. $200.00 a year for a completely useless search engine. The comments above are awesome and I agree. I was a loyal customer as well and only used old search. Getting thousands of results when I am looking for something specific is ridiculous. New search makes me spend hours looking for things. I wish there were another game in town. I could go on, but y’all have covered it well. Just wanted to add to the growing list of complainers!

  45. Anita Hansen

    Oh my, these new changes are HORRIBLE! I won’t speak about the search results because I can’t get over the useless change to the user interface! To change a name or other information you need to click on the Edit Search instead of just making changes in the field boxes, because there are no more field boxes on the results page! I frequently change the names or other information when I’m looking for information. Now it doesn’t even show me what I entered, e.g. marriage date. What if it was a simple typo? No, I really really don’t like clicking on “Edit Search” just to change a first name or add a birth year. I’m so glad I let my subscription lapse a couple months ago and not renew! How hard would it have been to simply ADD the slider feature to the other interface? I hope you fix this!

  46. Peggy Johnson

    New search – AWFUL, JUST PLAIN AWFUL. I filled out a survey asking me about the Ancestry site and this was the most commented on. Bring back that OLD SEARCH please. I agree to all the previous comments regarding the wasted time trying to navigate and getting hundreds of names and states I am not asking for. I am very disgusted with these new changes/look!

  47. Stan Bartlett

    The new search function does not fulfill my needs. It’s a waste of time and effort when it gives me names dates and places that aren’t even CLOSE to what I’m looking for. If it can’t be fixed soon, it’s time for me to move on.

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