Posted by Ancestry Team on April 9, 2014 in AncestryDNA

Are you using one of our most powerful DNA matching tools?

More and more people are taking the AncestryDNA test which means we are finding more and more matches and are able to identify even more shared ancestors through DNA hints. This is exciting for me as a user—not only am I getting more DNA matches but AncestryDNA is doing the work for me to find a connection. (You can read my personal success story of how I found a picture of my great-grandfather through one of my DNA hints).

We recently improved our DNA hints system (a DNA hint shows a possible common ancestor you share with one of your DNA matches). Our DNA team has been working really hard to improve this system, and since January 2014 we have served up more than a million DNA hints, bringing our total to 2.7 million.

How do DNA hints work?

After you take an autosomal DNA test, AncestryDNA compares your DNA to everyone in the AncestryDNA database. Depending on how much DNA you share with another individual, AncestryDNA estimates a relationship and gives you a list of your DNA matches. If you’ve linked your tree to your DNA results, AncestryDNA can also look through both you and your DNA matches’ trees and search for common names. If AncestryDNA finds the same person in your tree and your match’s tree, you’ll both get a DNA hint on your match page. A leaf is displayed to indicate we found a potential cousin.  Use the filters on the match page to find all of your DNA hints possible-click hints to search your DNA matches for DNA hints.


What happens if I make changes to my tree that is linked to my DNA results? No problem.

This powerful tool is running faster than ever, giving you updated DNA hints as you make changes to your tree. If you make changes to your tree or decide to link your DNA results to another tree, that same day AncestryDNA will upload those changes and reanalyze how you and your DNA matches may be related.

No other database has these tools or capabilities to work behind the scenes for you and predict who your common ancestor might be.

What if I don’t have any hints yet?

  • Don’t get discouraged.
  • Continue to build out your tree.
  • Link your DNA results to a tree (link the results to the person who took the test-Dad took the test, link the results to him in the tree, NOT YOU).
  • Help others by making your tree public or responding to emails from your DNA matches.
    • A hint will still show up with someone who has a private tree but you won’t be able to see which common ancestor you may share.

Why should I link my tree to my DNA results?

Linking your AncestryDNA test to a family tree allows AncestryDNA to keep working for you as you build out your tree on Here’s an example of what a hint can do for you:

shared ancestry hint cowan

I had a 4th cousin show up in my list of DNA matches—only this one came with a hint.  The hint will show me how we are connected, now I know where our possible genetic connection is: it looks like we both inherited DNA from Andrew Cowan and/or Anne Smellie. We need to verify the connection through our trees—after all this is just a “hint”—but since we know we share DNA, this is a great place to start.

The number of hints will continue to grow as more people take the AncestryDNA test and build out their trees. That’s exciting because it means there’s no limit to how many hints you can receive—and every name you add to your tree is one more chance to find more family.



  1. Carol

    Your AncestryDNA shared ancestor hints in the form of a family ancestor chart is so much easier to follow. Thank You!

  2. Rick Waggener

    I wish there was some way to compare the “matches” for two different persons. I have six different DNA tests: myself, my mother and my deceased father’s brother; my wife, her father and her deceased mother’s sister. Any matches that I have in common with my mother or my uncle, support connections to those different lines in my tree. The same with my wife, her father and aunt. Right now I have access to all these trees and can look at these common matches, but doing so is tedious and takes a lot of time.

    There are other comparisons between one on my tests and tests of other persons that would be similarly of value. These would require permission between both parties, but the results would show a lot. Common matches would further confirm common known or unknown connections. Comparing the matches for several known kin, would even further confirm those connections.

    This would be something really significant, if you could make it happen.

    Rick Waggener

  3. Ardine Burgess

    I have had several close matches, but I haven’t been able to link names.
    I was adopted, I know that my birth mother’s name was Dorothy Stanley, but I have no idea what my birth father’s name was. I have some indication that her maiden name may have been Montgomery.

    I am just happy to finally know that there were a lot of half truths in what my adoptive parents were told. I was told my nationality was mostly German and some Irish. Wrong. Scandanavian, Irish, a little German, a little Iberian Penninsula, and a few other things. I also found out that I do have or had either a full or a half sibling (I learned this through searching records at the county seat of the county I was born in).

    It’s wild to find out that there are people I’m probably related to that I didn’t give birth to!

  4. Christine

    Please edit/correct name where it says:
    ”build out your tree on”

    (Trump would fire you from The Apprentice for that error, lol, but I sure would love to see an themed episode!)

  5. akgagliani

    Waiting for the day when Ancestry opens up the Autosomal testing to people from other countries or regions, for instance, those residing in Canada and Europe?

  6. Richard Dale

    Also waiting for the day that Autosomal testing can be IMPORTED from other sources (such as FTDNA).

    I was lucky enough to have got on board the early beta of Ancestry DNA testing here in Australia – it all went very smoothly. However, pretty much all of my matches are from people in the US. I have no heritage in the US – it’s mostly in the UK so am missing a huge chunk of the world for intermediate matches!

    C’mon Ancestry – raise your game here please!

  7. Rebecca Pratt

    I have matches that have a shared ancestor, yet do not show as having a shared ancestor. Makes me wonder how often things are updated as we grow our trees. How long should I expect it to take before the match is in my shared ancestor list?

  8. Hello I DNA test Jan 4 2014 been over 8 week havnt got DNA result ..I dont understand dont heard anything on here my Ancestry websit…it something wrong ..Please help.. THANK YOU

  9. Nancy Thornton

    I heartily agree with Rick Waggener.
    We need to be able to compare multiple DNA test results for better information. I also currently have 7 DNA results with two more waiting in the wings to be tested.
    Would also be helpful if we could compare two or more of our own results. This would be especially helpful for those that are missing a key segment of their ancestry, i.e. a parent’s name.
    Sometime youe have a match with no common names that we see right away. If we could take two or more of those matches to us with no common names and compare them with each other for commonalities. It might give us a new direction to look in.
    Yes Please Ancestry get on the ball, we have been making suggestions for months now. How about a little more help please.
    Thank you for what you are or have done to this point. Let’s just move forward now.

  10. Judy Archer Brucker

    I have received a 1st cousin 99%. He does not have a tree because he does not know any of his ancestors because of adoption. We MUST share a lot of DNA. What do we do now?

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