Ancestry’s MyTreeTags

Instructions for opting in to the beta test are at the bottom of this post.

Ancestry has pulled off a trifecta for RootsTech 2019, introducing three exciting new tools that are sure to become integral your genealogy work, both traditional and genetic.  MyTreeTagsTM is the first of the three that I’ll review.  The others are an improved DNA Matches page and ThruLines.

All three features are still in beta testing, meaning glitches are to be expected and the appearance and functionality may change as improvements are made.  You can opt in to MyTreeTags and the new DNA Matches, while ThruLines will be automatically added to your DNA test if you meet certain criteria (details below).  If you are not comfortable with works in progress, there’s no need to opt in.

You can also watch a free live-stream video introduction to the features on their Facebook page.



MyTreeTags are customizable, searchable, mix-and-match options that you can add to people in your tree to streamline your work.  You can use tags for anything you want:  to mark direct ancestors, military veterans, DNA matches, brick walls, etc.  Ancestry has included some built-in tags that are generally applicable to most trees (and will be translated to other languages), and you can customize your own to suite your family history and research needs.

Best of all, they are searchable!


Adding Tags to a Person in Your Tree

To access tags, go to a profile page for someone in your tree. If your account is part of the beta test (see below for access), you will see a blue tag icon below their name.


Click the icon and a workspace will emerge from the right.  The Workspace also includes Notes and Comments, features that already exist in Ancestry trees.


Click on any of the tag categories to expand the options.  Here are the built-in selections for each category, as of 27 February 2019:

The blue question mark beside each tag offers a description.


You can even create your own tags!  Here’s one I created for Le Grand Dérangement (The Great Expulsion, in English), a horrific event when the British forcibly expelled their Catholic, French-speaking citizens from Nova Scotia.  Nearly half of the Acadians died as a result, and many who survived were separated from their families forever.

I have also created custom tags for places of origin (e.g., Canary Islands, France, Germany, Ireland) of my ancestors and for each of the DNA testing companies, so I can easily see where each match in my tree tested.

To assign a tag to someone in your tree, click to highlight it in the Workspace.  These are the ones I selected for my great grandfather Claude LaCoste, a widower:

At the moment, you can add up to 20 tags per person.  Once you save the tags, they’ll be applied to that profile, and you can close the Workspace. The tags will show in the person’s profile page.


You can also add tags from the tree view.  Click on a person, then the tools icon, then click “Add tag” to bring up the Workspace.  From there, you can add tags as before.


Using Tags to Search

The best part about tags is that they are searchable.  Click on Tree Search and then Filters to select the tags you want to use.

You can filter by one or more tags to suit your needs.  For example, you could find all direct ancestors or just direct ancestors who survived Le Grand Dérangement. You might want to see brick wall immigrants from Spain, or free blacks who fought in the Civil War.  As long as those tags have been assigned to people in your tree, you can search using them.  You can even combine surname searches with tags, e.g., DNA matches at AncestryDNA with the surname Hébert.

I can’t wait to use the search feature to plan research trips!


Wish List

The biggest downside of tags is how tedious they are to add.  Automation would help here.  For example, the option to assign “Direct Ancestor” to everyone in the home person’s pedigree, or a location tag to an entire family unit, would make tagging far more efficient.

It would also be great to be able to move my custom tags into the pre-existing categories.  I’ve created several tags for genetic genealogy, and they would make more logical sense in the DNA category.  A Geography category would be nice, too, for all of my “France” and “Canary Islands” and “Acadia” tags.

There’s no easy way to see who in the tree has been tagged and who hasn’t.  Making the blue “tag” icon visible in the tree (the way hints are) and in the “List of All People” would be really helpful.

Finally—and this is a moon shot—I would love a pedigree view that would highlight people based on selected tags.  How cool would it be to have a quick visual for which generations were the immigrants?  Or when your enslaved ancestors were freed?  What patterns interest you?  Use your imagination!



Only the tree owner and editors can add or delete tags, but anyone who can view your tree can see and search with them.  So be careful with those custom tags!


How to Opt In or Out

If you have an account at Ancestry, you can opt into MyTreeTags here: No subscription is required during the beta testing phase.

If you want to opt out, click on Extras in your black toolbar at the top of the Ancestry window, then select Ancestry Lab.  You can disable the beta features there.


18 thoughts on “Ancestry’s MyTreeTags”

  1. As always, thanks for your excellent summary! I’m trying it out right now. BTW: I’m constantly sharing many of your posts with my class attendees. They are easy to follow and full of good information.

  2. Can you add descriptive text to a built-in tag? Like tagging someone a DNA Connection and then describing the DNA Match and the Common Ancestor within that tag info?

    1. You can’t edit the descriptive text for the built-in tags, and any text you add for the custom tags will apply every time you use that tag. I’ve created separate custom tags for each of my family lines (e.g., DNA match to mom, DNA match to FIL) and then I describe the match in the “DNA Markers” fact on the match’s profile. Please let me know if you come up with a better workflow.

  3. Wonderful post. Thank you so much.
    Lukewarm after trying the feature.
    Much prefer having it native like this than as a 3rd party add-in.
    But they still have additional features, so may end up going back to them.
    There is heaps of the existing system that still does not work either properly or usefully for me. And yes, I have told them about it. Wish they had spent their time on that.

  4. Kia ora from NZ. Love your posts! I have opted in to the beta suite of new goodies and am finding them … OK.
    My Tree Tags is great, and yes it could be improved, but what a great start! My beef is that sometimes the tags will actually show up on the profile page of the person once I’ve selected/created one, and sometimes they don’t! (And it doesn’t matter which browser I use.) Sometimes the tag will show as blue – which they say means it’s attached – but who would know? Which means the other great things you’re supposed to be able to do, I can’t do.
    Glitches are to be expected yes, and hopefully useful feedback – but there is no “Give Feedback on My Tree Tags” in my Workspace. I wonder if they pick and choose who can give feedback?

    1. Oh that’s not good. I haven’t experienced that problem myself, although I have lost a lot of tags because I closed the MyTreeTags pop-in (that slides in from the right) because I forgot to click the Save button at the bottom. I’d prefer that it asked me “do you want to save” if I try to close the pop-in.

      My favorite way to give Ancestry feedback is by messaging their Facebook page. They usually respond quickly, and I don’t have to wait on hold.

      1. Thanks, I will try messaging their Facebook page – though again they don’t always respond (in my experience). Cheers!

  5. Thanks so much for you great and thorough explanation of the new features Ancestry has added.

    I am wondering if you know how the DNA Tree Tags work in the case of a tree you have built for someone other than yourself. If you set the home person for the tree to be the person for whom you are building the tree, and you mark THEIR DNA matches with these markers, will they be tied to them or to the tree creator/owner?

    I volunteer for adoptees to find their families and I love this new feature, but I don’t want to use these markers on their trees if it will end up adding these people in the new ThruLines. Hope I wasn’t too confusing in way in which I asked this…

    1. The MyTreeTags are specific to the person in the tree you add them to. If you place a 2C match into the tree and give that person the “DNA match” tag, the tag will apply to the 2C, not to the home person. So far, ThruLines are only using trees, not tags.

  6. Looking to use the Ancestry DNA tags but I clearly don’t understand the 3 different tags ( Common DNA Ancestor, DNA match, and DNA Connection). The definitions attached to each tag are unclear to me. Could you help me understand how best to use the new tags. Thanks!

    1. You can use them however you like. Here’s how I would use them for, say, my 2nd cousin Rob:
      – Rob has taken a DNA test and matches me as expected. I would add him to the tree and assign him the “DNA Match” tag.
      – Rob and I share Sid and Julia as great grandparents. The fact that he matches me as expected is supporting evidence that my paper-trail to Sid and Julia is correct, so I would tag them with “Common DNA Ancestor”.
      – Evidence that Sid and Julia were my biological great grandparents is also evidence that my mom and grandfather and Rob’s mom and grandfather fit into the tree the way I thought they did, so I would label the “DNA Connection”. This isn’t quite as strong evidence as the other two tags, of course, because there’s a chance there was an intra-family adoption that I don’t know about.

  7. Read where you help adoptees find birth parents. I am a DNA match from a cousin who contacted me seeking information about his adoption which I did not have other than possibly the side of the family it came through, Can you help him. He has limited information,

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