Keeping Your Multiple Trees Updated

One of the difficulties of having your family tree in many places is keeping them all up to date.

WikiTree, FamilySearch, and Geni logos When I give my presentation on why you should contribute your research to one of the one world collaborative trees, I usually suggest that you pick only one for just that reason. Personally I use all three,, and So I need a few clever tools to keep them in synch.

Both FamilySearch and WIKItree accept GEDcom uploads so I often add a new family line on GENI, then download the gedcom and merge it to my private family tree, before uploading it to the other two. However sometimes the new branch is discovered on Ancestry or MyHeritage so …

How to Add a GEDCOM to

No you cannot add a GEDCOM to GENI but you can add family groups one at a time from several other genealogy sites via a tool called SmartCopy, if you are a pro GENI user. So if you have a tree elsewhere this is a way to copy your tree over. If you do not have a tree online elsewhere then I suggest you import your GEDCOM to WIKItree and then use SmartCopy to bring over each family group that is not already on GENI. Still not as fast as importing a GEDCOM but way better than retyping or using cut and paste.

SmartCopy Chrome Addon

SmartCopy is an add-on for the Chrome browser which will copy information from record matches at MyHeritage (you need a paid subscription), Ancestry, or WIKItree. Although it will not copy from FamilySearch, it will copy from a MyHeritage record match page of a familysearch person.

Wikitree X Chrome Addon

WIKItree also has a Chrome add-on tool for copying a person over from other sites. It is called Wikitree X and it can copy from FamilySearch. So when you discover a new branch at that site you can copy to WIKItree with this tool and then use SmartCopy to copy it to GENI.

While there is no Chrome tool for FamilySearch, the paid version of the RootsMagic program on your computer will let you synch people from your local family tree to the familysearch tree.

More about SmartCopy

The details for SmartCopy are listed here or just click here for the link to use to add it to chrome.

To copy whole family groups, you need an additional privilege to do tree building which only a curator can grant you, so click here for the list of curators.

I have been very hesitant to blog about these tools because of my fear that information from the many bad trees from will get added to the other trees. However I promised the last group I gave my collaborative world tree talk to that I would write this blog post. Just please please be very careful. Check over and add the sources for any families you copy…


UPDATE 7 mar 2017: The developer of Smartcopy told me that it works with familysearch now, so I guess I need to try that again! Here is what he said in addition on Facebook in the GENI users group there:

” … the latest version 3.x allows basic Geni users to add family members due to some changes with Geni’s API. So a Pro membership is no longer needed for that. It is recommended though in order to identify matches for merge so as not to add duplicates to the world tree.”

16 thoughts on “Keeping Your Multiple Trees Updated

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  1. Hi, so if I’m
    Understanding this correctly. There’s no easy way to transfer your info on Familysearch to other trees, right? My Familysearch tree is the most filled of any other tree I have. I download the Free version oh Rootsmagic, but I can’t bring myself to start.
    Any advice? I have partial tree on Geni and a partial one on FamilytreeDNA and will need to add one to soon….

    • You can transfer your familysearch data with a gedcom that you export from RootsMagic. You can use the whole gedcom or just 12 generations for Ancestry if that is to go with a DNA test.

      That gedcom can be imported to Wikitree as well. Then use smartcopy to fill in the gaps on your GENI tree. You may find most of your ancestors already on GENI

  2. I tried to copy my Ancestry GEDCOM to Wikitree, but it was to big. Is there an “easy” way to get it over there without having to create a smaller tree?

    • Because WIKITREE is careful about duplicates and pre 1700 you probably do not want to import your whole tree all at once. Best to do one family line at a time and only 8 generations of so. This makes it more manageable.

      • Seconding this! You will also need to go back through all that family and clean-up the bio / sources portion and add current/last known surname for (mostly) female ancestors, if you’re being really diligent about it. The gedcom import from Ancestry can leave all kinds of garbage text behind. It can be easy to get overwhelmed if you upload many at once.

        I would also recommend doing some preliminary searches to see how much of your family lines are already on Wikitree, especially for colonial ancestors. That might save you from adding new people that have to be merged later. This will also make existing profile managers happy, since they have to approve merges and often end up performing them, and there’s always a certain amount of cleaning up that needs to happen with merging things. It’s sometimes not pretty. I wish I knew all these things when I uploaded my gedcoms!

  3. Thanks for the replies. I do need to go in and clean up my Ancestry file. There were several wrong leads that went several generations before I determined they were not correct and deleted just the lead person. That’s going to be fun to clean up the rest.

  4. As you say, when adding people to Wikitree, you have to go through an exhaustive process of identification. Updating your tree/s at Wikitree by supplying an updated Gedcom, do you have to go through all that process again? Or does Wikitree “remember” the people/information that you had previously supplied?
    (I do wish Wikitree would change its policy and list by birth/inherited surname rather than by women’s married surname, for example.)

    • Bill,
      Since wikitree is a collaborative tree, you do not have to readd people who you already added. The idea is to have one copy of every person. So when you process a gedcom, do not forget the part where you submit it!

      I add new people with a gedcom or the wikitree X tool. The tool can also be used to update people as well.

    • Bill,
      Also there is a button to save your work on wikitree when you are not finished reviewing your gedcom. I have used it often!

    • APM – I used to use Family Tree Maker and still do for synching with Ancestry and ease of exporting subsets of my tree but I am trying to get used to RootsMagic. It synchs with familysearch and has lots of other nice features like a good search by locality. The real answer is that my primary tree is on GENI not on my desktop …

      • Thanks!

        I find myself in a similar situation. I keep my real, fully sourced tree on WikiTree. I only use WikiTree to add ancestors I’ve properly researched, otherwise I’ve been using Ancestry trees as a starting place for researching a new area of my family tree.

        The sync with familysearch feature in RootsMagic sounds interesting, I may need to try it.

  5. I was thinking of starting a blog to record my frustrations and successes in family tree climbing. I found your discussion most interesting. I’ve been doing genealogy for about 70 years and really miss Rootsweb World connect where I had downloaded several gedcoms. I had been on Ancestry when I had a free trial and got my dna there, but I am mainly on Wikitree, right not just entering the profile way. I’ve not used getcom there yet. I tried to get back on Family Search but I couldn’t read their screen and I know I have downloaded old gedcoms there too. My question is: If I find a branch of my tree that I need to get on Wikitree can I upload a gedcom of that branch and easily transfer the data?

    • Lester –
      Yes you can upload a GEDCOM to wikitree but you have to click people over from it one by one these days after checking any duplicates it found. I often use that feature for a new branch. The smaller the group the easier!

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