Posted by Ancestry Team on October 8, 2018 in Website

We’ve added a new feature to our Family Tree sharing options to make it even easier than ever to invite friends and family to collaborate.

To share your family tree with others, navigate to the tree you would like to share, and select Sharing from the tree drop-down menu.

Among the email and Ancestry messaging options, you’ll now also see Shareable Link.

Selecting this new option allows you to choose whether the invitee will be a Guest, Contributor, or Editor. (For more information about each role select the “i” next to the role label.) Additionally, you will be able to decide whether living people in your family tree will be viewable.

When you have the options the way you’d like, selecting Create Link will generate the link for you.

Clicking the Copy Link button will copy the link to your clipboard so that you can share it via email, instant message, text message, or any other preferred communication method.

After a link has been generated you can view whether it has been used or not, assign a nickname, change settings, or remove access from the tree settings page.

We hope you find this enhancement makes sharing your tree easier than ever. We are always eager to hear what you think. One you’ve generated and copied a link you will see an option to share feedback with us.


  1. They won’t need a paid subscription to be invited to someone’s tree at any level of access (Guest, Contributor, or Editor). They will need a free Ancestry account to log in and view the tree, however. If they don’t already have an account they can sign up for a free account directly from the page the link takes them to.

    • Waynette Davis

      I liked the old system where if I invited my relatives or friends to look at a page in my tree to edit it for corrections using their help I could. Now they will not want to put in a credit card number and sign up just to do that for me.

        • Dag Arne Danielsen

          Bob Bryan wrote October 10, 2018 : “They won’t need a credit card.” Is that correct ?
          If they don’t already have an account they have to sign up for a free account directly from the page the link takes them to. And there they have to give their credit card.
          What is correct ??

      • Paul rouse

        Nancy Johnson was dating harmon bud mccoy he was one of the first person to be kiled in the fued Nancy was pregnant with harmon bud mccoy she had a son and named him Dolph Johnson Dolph marred Lassie Ferrell Dolph came from mccoy family liassie came from Hatfield family of the Hatfield and McCoy fued thank you for letting. Me give you this part of my family tree I find it quite amusing thank you Paul rouse

  2. Bill

    This is very handy, thank you.

    One strong suggestion I have is on the default email preferences for guests, contributors and editors. The current default is that these people get inundated with emails, every time a change is made to the tree. Very annoying. For the most part they are interested in just one of the family lines and really don’t care if the birth record of great, great aunt Suzi in a different line was found.

    The default should be changed to notifications off to eliminate all the annoying emails.

    Bill Greggs

      • Pat

        I agree re having a switch to cease the wealth of emails re lines that hold no interest for me. I realize that we cannot select the lines, but just allow me to look at the tree when I wish.

  3. Toni

    I was sent an invitation the old fashioned way 3 days ago. I have an ancestry account. I happened to be signed in when the invitation came. I wasn’t allowed to see the tree I was invited to. Ancestry wanted me to make a new account. Guess what I did. So much for sharing.

    • caith

      Yes, this has happened to me most of the time also.

      Another strange thing has happened many times. After I have been unable to access the link ancestry has sent me, I look and it is in my account amongst the othe trees I manage .

  4. caith

    And again, as others have asked, how is this different from the sharing we have done in the last many years? Are you now saying the sharing feature will work 100% of the time, or only 40% of the time as in the past. No, I am not snarky, I am trying to get to the truth.

    How is this different? Do the recipients still need to put in their address book so Ancestry will be recognized?

    Thank you. Please give us clarification.

    • TomW

      Sharing never works for me if I’m in my preferred browser Firefox, I have to log in using the Chrome browser whenever I want to send an invitation.

    • Josh Harman

      Hi Caith,

      The difference here is that previously you could only invite someone to your tree via either an Ancestry username or their e-mail address and then Ancestry would e-mail that person on your behalf with a link. The new option generates the link directly for you and then you can share that link with whomever you’d like to invite in whatever method is most convenient for you.

      • Debbie Hutchison

        When will Ancestry make users emails available so that we can contact our matches directly? It is beyond frustrating to send an email using the Ancestry communication portal and then wait for answer that never comes because that email might have been caught in the spam filter or ignored because a person no longer has an Ancestry account. Other companies offer direct communication; Ancestry should be the leader, not the hold out in this important area.

        • Paulette D Baker

          I totally agree. Why go through the trouble if you are not interested in “meeting” more family? I created a tree and had DNA to learn more about my families but only a few I contacted responded to me and only 1 person asked me about family from my tree.

  5. caith

    When will the Member Connect start working again? It has not worked for over a year.
    Thank you, sincerely.

    Just get a few of the old features working again properly, and we will be encouraged to take out a yearly subscription instead of a month subscription, or none at all.

    We want to be loyal to you again. Loyalty is a feel good feature.

    Thank you.

  6. Sharon

    The major fault is that in order to get a FREE account (not paid subscription) is that people still must enter a valid credit card number to create that free account. A main reason so many do not take advantage of any of the sharing features.

    • caith

      The free account is for a short limited time. At least 7 days before the expiration date, call them and cancel; otherwise the membership will rollover/renew and your card will again be charged.

      Be sure to get your cancellation #. I have never had a problem in this regard.

    • Josh Harman

      A free account does not require a credit card and is not time-limited in any fashion – it is actually completely free! Free accounts will not be able to view or add records that require a subscription but are not limited in any other way.

      • caith

        I think I, and others, are meaning to reference a free trial subscription which has been offered in the past, and perhaps still is being offered, whereby you can actually do research.

        Anybody can open an account and put up a tree which is FREE, but they do not have the research capability without a paid subscription.

        Please correct me if I am wrong.

      • Jojo

        If you go through the normal account sign-up process, then yes, you do have to provide a CC or a PayPal account as I document in my post below. I think that once you do this and then cancel the trial, that you then get converted to the free account that you speak of.

  7. Sandra

    I hadn’t realised that the people I invited had to sign uo for a free account with a credit card, I know understand why several family members haven’t accepted their invitation. In future I simply wont bother to invite anyone who doesn’t already have an account; rather undoes the sharing idea!!

    • Suzanne

      I didn’t realize about the credit card account either. It should be changed. I pay for it, why should a guest have to give their number? Additionally, I have to re-invite people over and over because they can’t look at the tree when they had access before.

  8. Dag Arne Danielsen

    I hadn’t realised that the people I invited had to sign uo for a free account with a credit card, I know understand why several family members haven’t accepted their invitation. In future I simply wont bother to invite anyone who doesn’t already have an account; rather undoes the sharing idea!
    Why can you not lett people open my site, whitout an acount?
    People don’t want to see my tree when they have to use their credit card!!
    Can you please change this soon??

    • Jojo

      Probably best to just send a screen capture of what you want to share. MyHeritage used to offer a non-sign-up required sharable link. They may still do so.

  9. caith

    The New Shareable Link vs the Old Sharing Method (which can still be used)

    Josh, please correct me if I am wrong. I like the Old sharing method because I have the ability to dis-invite that person at any time. E.g., I want to invite someone to view my tree for one week, but do not want them to have access beyond that. I can then dis-invite them.

    It seems the new Shareable Link cannot be dis-invited. E.g., they now have access to my private tree permanently.

    Please clarify.

    • Josh Harman

      Hi Caith,
      You will be able to change access levels or remove access at any time, just like with other invite methods. Even before someone uses the link, you can revoke or change the access level it provides. Additionally, you can simply delete the invitee before or after they use the link. The last thing we’d want would be to take away control over your tree!

  10. Jojo

    This is no different than what was offered previously other than you can send a link instead of revealing a users email address to Ancestry, Which is a minor improvement. And YES Josh, a free account DOES require a CC or Paypal account to sign-up. Understand that Ancestry’s goal here is to get people to sign-up and then they hopefully will forget to cancel at the required 2-days prior to automatic billing on their CC/Paypal and Ancestry will obtain some extra revenue.

    A TRUE sharable link works like this link I am sharing to a screenshot capture stored on my Google Drive, in which I went through the new user process to show that Ancestry indeed requires a CC or PayPal to sign-up for a “Free account”.

    My link does not require you to sign-up with Google or do anything other than view the file. This is how Ancestry SHOULD work because very few people are going to give-up their email and CC info to view a tree.

    • Jojo

      After further experimentation, I have discovered that IF you DO NOT complete the free account registration, the account that I created in the 1st step is still valid and working.

      So next I created a sharable link and while logged into this fake account, I then pasted the link into the browser and opened it. I then was able to see the tree I linked to under this now free account w/o apparently requiring to give Ancestry a CC or PayPal info.

      Unfortunately, unless you describe this to the person you are sending the link to, then will be unlikely to figure this out on their own, so most people will still complete the whole sign-up and give-up their payment info.

      • Josh Harman

        Hi Jojo,
        If you attempt to create an account via other methods you will be offered the chance to sign up for a free trial, that is definitely true. If you use the link we generate for tree sharing, however, it takes you to a landing page that doesn’t. It asks for basic information like name, e-mail address, and to create a password, but once you click sign-up, it takes you directly into the tree you were invited to. An easy way to test this is to generate a link to a tree of yours, copy the link, and then open up a new browser window in incognito mode. Go to the link and put in information as if you’re a new person signing up for a free account. You’ll see that it should take you directly to the tree without ever asking for any additional info. If you see something different, please let me know and I’ll dig into it.

        • Jojo

          OK, when I tested using Chrome’s Incognito mode, it worked as you described. However, when I tried using Edge’s InPrivate mode, the logon failed with the error “An error occured [sic] while processing your invitation. Your invitation to view the family tree could not be found”. You should test all major browsers in use as results appear to be different with each one.

          Also, the sharable links I generated (3, so far) are not appearing in the Manage Invitees part of Tree Settings|Sharing.

          Additionally, while I am throwing suggestions at you, the Manage Invitees should show how many times someone has visited the tree and the last date that they did so. If someone I previously shared with has not visited in some time, then perhaps I want to delete their share authorization.

  11. Maggie

    I have read the comments, and I understand that others are having the same issues that I am having. I received an email that I was invited to view a tree. I clicked on the blue button (Explore Now) (there was no other place to click in the invitation), and I was sent to my home page. However, the tree was not under my Trees tab, and was no where to be seen on my home page. The person did the sharing again, and the same thing happened again. So, the old way does not work anymore I guess. I am going to see if the person can send by the “new” way. I will see if this makes a difference.

  12. Stephen Moore

    Whenever I try and use this “shareable link” feature, my tree ‘forgets’ I’m the root person…. which I know is pretty strange behavior, but none the less, I’ve repeated this three times now on my macbook pro…. Has anyone else seen this?

  13. James Cairnduff

    ever wondered what happens to your credit card details? how long will they remain in their system and how safe is their system. for me I dont trust Ancestry…

  14. Patricia neldon

    My local library offers free classes on many computer programs such as word, excel etc. I wish they could do classes on Ancestry. Com. Would you consider offering it to a library since they never charge for classes. Some of us are old timers and could use the on hands help. You might find that more people will buy subscriptions.

    • Sokolee

      My sister belongs to a local genealogy group that meets at the library; they had a local genealogist show people how the site worked. Probably no cost to anyone as sister did not mention a fee.

  15. Michael

    Thanks so much for this! Most of my Ancestry-generated invites were landing in spam filters lately, so this should be a very nice improvement. Now if you could fix the problem where accepting the invite sometimes does not give you access to the tree, that would be great! It’s happened in the past month or so both for invitations I have sent and invitations I have received – but only sporadically.

  16. Graham Crawford

    I just sent a URL of a profile on a tree to another Ancestry member. All she got was “We’re sorry. The page you tried to access is no longer available”.
    I opened another window and tried it myself. I got the same message – FOR MY OWN TREE!!. How can I send a profile address to another Ancestry member?

  17. Graham Crawford

    I tried setting up a share with another Ancestry member. I entered her user name ‘xxxx xxxxx’ clicked on the “Send invites” button and got “Please enter a valid user name”.
    Is your system rejecting her user name because it has a space in it?

  18. Graham Crawford

    Please provide some sort help page, SOMEWHERE ON YOUR HELP SETTINGS, for this new ‘Sharable Link’ option? Just provide a dummy setting showing how to get another Ancestry member to link to my tree. I got as far as ‘Create Link’, but what do I do with it?

  19. Willene Gillies

    I guess the old way no longer works as someone has sent invites to their tree to me three different times and none of them came through. The directions above to use the new Link are confusing and I may never get the invite to that tree. Too bad Ancestry had to improve something that worked so well in the past that now it doesn’t work at all.

  20. Ray Plutko

    In reviewing the mass of residence data highlighted throughout our collective research efforts, coupled with a never-ending communication hotline, I urge consideration of developing a master list of countries being referenced

  21. Judith

    My tree morphed. I now have original and a copy. I did not realize this for quite a while and now have two trees with some things saved on one and other things saved on the copy. Anyone know how to merge trees?

  22. Lena Taylor

    Maiden name is Gibby, daughter of Lonnie Glendon Gibby, grandaughter of Lonnie William Gibby & Evalena Nelson.

  23. David Casassa

    For the record, you NEVER need to present a credit card unless you are signing up at a paid membership level (which may include a free trial at the start). According to the Terms of Service:

    “Users of the Services may include unregistered guests, free registered guests, paid subscribers, and people who purchase and/or activate a DNA kit (“Users”). You may need to create an account to use the Services.”

    Again, no credit card for unregistered guests or free registered guests. When you follow a link to a shared tree, you must either be registered already, or you must register for at least a new free account (NOT a free trial) . After that, you can browse at will, both in tree view and profile view. You can click on one of the “Ancestry Sources” in a profile and view its text description, but as a guest you cannot view its image. For “Other Sources,” you can view both the text and any image (externally) linked from it. Nor can you search for Ancestry content as a guest; that’s what the paid subscribers are paying for.

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