Finally, a Reason to Get Ancestry Pro Tools!

Ancestry has released a new feature that many of us have been eagerly waiting for: how much DNA your matches share with each other and the estimated relationship between them. This can help when a new match has no tree, for example, if their sibling or parent has one. Read on for a description of my first experiments with this tool.

Most Mondays I go look at my new DNA matches on Ancestry. Typically I first click Unviewed and then click Common Ancestors.

The buttons I click (added arrows are mine)

If no matches come up, then I unclick the Common Ancestors button in order to see all the new matches. Next I sort them by date to see the most recent first. Sometimes I first pick one parent or change the range of cM to view (via the button called Shared DNA). Then I scan the resulting list. I typically click on the new matches with trees and the most DNA. I find that if you contact people when they have just received their results, they are more likely to respond.

I had a wonderful surprise when I clicked on a new DNA relative’s name to go to their match page with me: a message informing me that if I upgraded to the Pro Tools I could see how my matches were related to each other including the cM. Of course I upgraded, only an extra $10 per month. By the way, as they are just rolling out this feature it is a bit slow today from all of us trying it out.

My match with Gary turned up two distant relatives from different lines, perhaps I can figure out where he fits in

Now my page for that new match looks like the above. Note that you can click on the projected relationship to get the full explanation including unweighted DNA and longest segment just like on a match page.

However on the shared matches page my colored dots have changed to squares with the first letter of the group. Not sure how I feel about that change. A benefit is that it shows you how many people are in that group when you go to the edit groups. At least the colors are almost the same. On the trees and ethnicity pages it is the same colored dot as before, for now.

A few glitches occurred. I was not able save the new notes I made from the shared matches page. I can only save them from the tree and ethnicity pages. Also it was easier to set the colored dot group on those pages, as the save from the shared matches page seemed delayed.

Now how to use this new feature? Well for one, when a new match has no tree perhaps one of their close relatives does. The icons on this new shared matches display page show you if there is tree and if it is private. They also indicate if there is a shared ancestor. Put your cursor on the icon and it will tell you what it means.

My first step is to scroll through the new shared match list looking for the highest matches to the new one, in case I have already figured out that other relationship. Using this technique I was able to determine at least one shared ancestor.

Another possibility is that there will be enough more distant known cousins who match the new one to figure it out. Now that you know the shared cM, you can even use WATO to figure out the likely relationship.

I wonder how soon the Genetic Affairs site will be able to work with the screen save of these pages to build trees for you.

However I plan to spend the next few days (weeks?) using this feature to build the tree of my mystery matches from the presumed unknown father of my gg-grandad who was a Westbye from Skoger, Vestfold, Norway or was it my gg-grandad who was actually the Westbye? Click here for that story. Knowing the shared DNA among them will confirm the tree I have built or more likely expand it. I will start with my highest Westbye match and look at her shared matches.

Next, since so many of my wonderful cousins on the Wold side have shared their DNA with me, I can do the same from their DNA page. Then I can work with the new probability tree called BanyanDNA and perhaps figure it out. I thought a Y test might solve this but when I asked several Norwegian Westbyes to do Y testing at my expense, they had no interest in doing so. Not everyone is as interested in this stuff as I am.

The Pro Tools have several other nice features. I particularly like the descendant lists it can make, an important tool that was missing. I actually use the GENI.com site for that and other such reports since my family tree is much more solid and complete over there. The one on Ancestry is the one I use to test hypotheses and so I keep changing my gg-grandad! Plus it has plenty of errors and duplicates that the Pro Tools can find but I usually use my desktop software, Family Tree Maker, to find and fix those.

More soon on my Westbye experiment!

47 thoughts on “Finally, a Reason to Get Ancestry Pro Tools!

Click here to add your thoughts at the end of the comments
  1. I was so excited about trying to help a cousin of mine who is adopted. Unfortunately, I think it means unless I am the manager of the kit, I can’t order the pro tools and access her shared amounts. She hast to have a paid Ancestry membership and the pro tools. It looks like. Please correct me if I’m wrong! I am a collaborator on her kit. Still, it is wonderful for the people who will benefit from some of those new features.

      • Last night when i tried accessing pro tools add on I got a message saying I had to call in. I was on the phone with Ancestry for 30 minutes and they denied me saying the tester had to be a paid member. I went back tonight, though, after your comment, and thankfully I wa successful, This is great news! Thank you!

    • I manage several family members kits on Ancestry and they do not have paid subscription. I just got the new roll out with Pro tools and under my sign in (I am either manager or collaborator level on the other kits and they are attached to my Trees) I can use all the tools on their DNA match lists that I do on my own.

  2. I have Pro Tools, but this option is not showing up for me. Is it just in Beta version now and not showing up for everyone?

      • There are 2? I just upgraded to ProTools. I don’t see another option for ProDNA tools. Is it another charge?

        • As far as I know, there is only one set of pro tools. This feature is being rolled out slowly, not everyone has it. Long ago I signed up somewhere to be a beta tester of new features so perhaps that is why I got it early

  3. Kitty, I think I’m going to wait until things are running more smoothly. Do you mean that once you get Pro Tools, you cannot revert to the original match list with the color-coded groups established previously. My system is a hybrid of other methods and I don’t want to lose that entirely.

    Thanks.
    Carol Snow (NSDCGS)

    • Kitty, I have a cluster of mystery matches who all descend from HWM. I know his father is an NPE because in his mother’s divorce papers her husband claims that the two youngest boys can’t be his because he is sterile from having the mumps during the civil war. Back when thought he might be my great grandmother’s father, I ordered his civil war pension file and it goes into graphic detail about his genitalia’s condition from having had the mumps.
      I have since determined who my great grandmother’s parents are using DNA and WATO PLUS gives me a 99% probability.
      Now that I have PRO TOOLS is there a way to put this cluster in WATO PLUS with WHM as the MRCA and my great great grandfather as his father? Or is Banyon, which I have never used better?
      My tree is private and I keep trying out different people for the NPE but I keep getting a higher relationship for my matches than it should be.

  4. I did not realize that there were two different ProTools. On my Account Settings page, it only shows options for subscribing to one Ancestry Pro Tools. I do not find any options for Pro Tools on my DNA home page settings tab.

    How do I sign up for DNA Pro Tools if it is different?

  5. I saw it last week paid for it just to try it out and still see nothing so that is a waste of my money. I still don’t see it and paid for it on June 13th and they won’t refund my money..SMH!!!

    • It is a slow roll out. I’ve had Pro Tools since it started several months ago and I just got the shared matches part a few days ago. There are other tools in it you can be using.

  6. Very cool! However, I am not yet getting the prompt to see how my shared matches relate to each other if only I upgrade, so I presume the rollout will take several days (if not weeks) to occur. I was one of the last to get the paternal/maternal split so I’ll keep checking. Thanks for this update! This is indeed a reason to upgrade now – yay!

    • I bit the bullet and went ahead to get Pro Tools to be ready… and I have Shared Matches immediately! Yay! (Angie Bush of Ancestry’s AncestryProGenealogists said on the FB group Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques that if you’re in the USA, you should have it rolled out by end of week.)

  7. Hopefully the option to purchase Pro DNA Tools and this feature will be rolled out to all members soon. Currently, it is not available to all per Ancestry customer support. And yes, Pro DNA tools are a separate subscription from regular Pro Tools on Ancestry.com.

    FYI, I had to read your blog post to customer support for them to even know the feature that I was talking about and then after 30 minutes of them consulting with others was told that currently not everyone is eligible for this feature. They have submitted a Feedback request to try to give me the option to purchase Pro DNA tools which are a separate subscription from the regular ancestry Pro Tools. We will see how that goes. As I have the highest level of all of the records and DNA subscriptions, plus Pro Tools on regular ancestry.com and use it almost everyday, I was surprised that it was not available to me.

    Hope this info helps everyone. It looks like we just have to wait our turn at this point.

  8. Thanks for all the updates. I’ll check back and hope to learn more here as more people share their experiences. I have had FULL WORLD membership forever. I manage many kits for others while solving their DNA mysteries. I’d like to pay once and get access to Tools for all kits — or the ones I’m still actively working on. And I would love JUST the DNA Tool, if that proves to be a separate one.

  9. I joined Pro Tools about 90 minutes ago. Initially ancestry said they had to process my data. Now the Pro Tool works just like Kitty describes. To the right of “Shared Matches”, there is “Pro Tools”. Click on that.

  10. Still see nothing. What web browser are you on? Maybe it is an issue with that. I have had difficulty with sites not showing certain tabs and windows before on different browsers. I am on Chrome and just updated it, but still don’t have an offer for Pro DNA tools. Already have regular Pro Tools, but nothing showing up next to “shared Matches”

  11. Alison, I think you have the only Tools program, but the specific features may take time to reach everyone.

  12. When I click on “Ancestry Pro Tools”, it lists all the features included in the $10/mo fee. The last feature listed is “Advanced DNA Tools”. The fine print under this heading states “separate DNA kit required to access this feature”. A separate kit????

    • I think what they mean is that the $10 fee per month doesn’t include the cost of a DNA kit. And to use advanced DNA tools, you need to have access to a resulted DNA kit. Confusing wording on their part, as it seem obvious that to see shared matches, you first have to have DNA matches. But it is the best feature since shared matches. I’ve made so much progress in just the last few days! But it will really make you think- it’s almost like algebra.

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  14. One more small sort-of-glitch I’ve noticed — kind of related to Kitty’s comment about notes saving under Tree or Ethnicity tab. If you’re defining a relationship in your tree between 2 folks with shared DNA, you have more relationship options when you do it while on the Tree or Ethnicity tab. (Example: 3C3R was not available as a possible relationship for one of my mom’s matches in the Shared Matches page, but it was when I clicked on the Ethnicity tab.)

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  16. I have an Ancestry UK subscription. The website says Pro Tools is only available in the USA. Can I pay for it in US$ and access it?

    • MyHeritage has had the Pro Tools feature enabling you to see how many cM a match shares with all other matches, for years. It isn’t new technology and it isn’t unique to Ancestry – and on MyHeritage you don’t have to pay for it at all. Since Ancestry’s shareholder structure changed, it’s all about making money.

        • They told me that too. But I think it was just to make me go away when I was complaining they have broken shared matches for us in the UK. I have cancelled my subscription until they fix it.

  17. I see there is still much confusion about the Ancestry Pro Tools vs. the AncestryDNA Plus plans. This enhanced Shared Matches feature is part of the Ancestry Pro Tools only, which also requires a ‘full’ Ancestry membership of some flavor.

    The AncestryDNA Plus plan restores many of the functions that were taken away by Ancestry for those who only had a DNA Kit membership. There are supposed to be more groups / colors made available via this AncestryDNA Plus membership soon as well, but it is rolling out gradually, and not everyone has it available yet.

  18. Ancestry UK confirmed today, 24 June 2024, the Pro Tools option to see shared cM of matches to mutual matches is being rolled out later today.

  19. I started using the Ancestry Pro DNA Shared Matches feature yesterday and have already been able to figure out 3 DNA matches who had no trees, just based upon this new tool. Woohoo! I’ve found it to be more helpful than the same feature on MyHeritage because I can see my notes right on the Shared Matches page in Ancestry.

  20. Ancestry ProTools became available in Canada on Monday (24 June). I signed up immediately and am finding it invaluable in determining relationships. Hopefully more features will roll out behind this paywall in the future.

  21. Hi Kitty, and thanks for your post which alerted me to the details of the DNA part of this. It’s a game changer, but I’ve noticed that not all shared matches are appearing.

    I have invites to view several other DNA matches, and I can see that some mutual matches are missing,

    For example, I have two matches who share 17cM with each other, but neither appear as shared matches with each other in my enhanced list. This appears to be random, as other matches lower than 17cM appear in each list.

    • Update – maybe they make this clear somewhere, but the cut off seems to be 20 cM on the other person’s matches. So you’ll only see shared matches of a particular match if they share 20 cM or above with the person on your match list.

      • Between you (A) and the other person (B), at least one of you has to match the third person (C) above 20 cM, but only A or B has to be over 20 cM to C, not both of you. So: 1) if AC=40 and BC=30, you’d see it. 2) AC=10 and BC=30, you’d see it. 3) AC=30 and BC=10, you’d see it. but 4) AC=10 and BC=9, you wouldn’t see it.

  22. Since you say you use your Ancestry Tree to experiment different persons, I really hope it is not a public tree. The non proven public trees totally confuse the matches of those of us that experiment on a home computer and then only enter proven people on our Public Ancestry tree for others to see.
    The experimental trees also make our ThruTrees so incorrect and become useless and very annoying.

    • Marg, thank you for your comment, a good point but not really relevant to me. Yes it is public but since the area of experimentation is changing my great great grandfather or his dad, which you would know if you were a regular reader, it is unlikely to perturb anyone. If it messes up their thrulines, great, maybe then I will hear from some of them!
      Personally my most accurate trees are at the many world trees like GENI, wikitree, and family search. While I document my ancestors carefully, DNA has taught me that paper records are not always correct!

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