Getting Started with Genome Mate Pro, Part 9 — Import a Gedcom

Scroll down for links to other posts in this series.

At the top of the chromosome browser window in GMP, you’ve probably noticed the grey bars labeled “Paternal” and “Maternal”.

They represent the two copies of the chromosome that you are viewing, one inherited from your father and one from your mother, respectively. Portions of those chromosomes (segments) can be traced back to your grandparents, great grandparents, and so on in a process called “chromosome mapping”. For example, segments you share with a second cousin can be attributed to the great grandparents from whom you and the cousin are descended.

GMP makes chromosome mapping easy, but first you have to import a gedcom of your family tree. We’ll do that in this lesson. After we’ve loaded the gedcom(s), we’ll map a segment.

Import a Gedcom for a GMP Profile Person

  1. Open your family tree software or website and export a gedcom for one of your GMP profile people. If given a choice for the export, use the Gedcom 5.5 format with UTF-8 characters. Make a note of where it is saved on your computer.
  2. Open GMP and back up your database (File > Backup Database).
  3. In GMP, click on the ANCESTORS tab.
  4. Click the LOAD GEDCOM button at the bottom of the large, central panel.
    Read, then dismiss the popup that specifies the proper gedcom file format.
  5. Navigate to the folder on your computer where your gedcom was saved, select the gedcom file, and click OPEN.
  6. On the next popup, select your profile on the right-hand side. The selected profile will be highlighted in peach. (One user has reported problems with this step in Windows 7. If you do not see this popup, try doing the import in a later version of Windows.)
  7. On the left-hand side, find and select yourself in the list of names. There is a search field at the bottom that can be used to quickly narrow the list down. Enter your search with the surname first, a comma, and your given name, then press the Enter or Return key on your keyboard. Note that the search is sensitive to diacritical marks (e.g., Hébert is not the same as Hebert).
  8. Confirm that you’ve selected the correct profile on the right and the correct person on the left, then click the LOAD ANCESTORS button.
  9. GMP will ask if the profile person you selected on the right is the same as the person in your gedcom file. Double check that you’ve selected the correct people, then click YES.
  10. Wait while GMP imports the direct ancestors for that profile person. (Other people in the gedcom will be ignored.) Click OK in response to the pop-up when the import is done.
  11. If you set up more than one profile in GMP and if one or more of those people is also represented in the gedcom you just loaded, repeat Steps 6–10 for each of them.
  12. If you set up more than one profile in GMP and if one or more of those people is represented in a different gedcom file, repeat Steps 4–10 for each of them.
  13. Once you’re done loading gedcoms, click CLOSE.
  14. You will get a pop-up asking you to wait for the gedcom to be converted to an Ahnentafel. Click OKAY.
  15. You should now see a column of names in the Ancestor List (left-hand panel) and in the field for Update Alternate Surname Spelling (top right).

Features of the ANCESTORS Tab

The ANCESTORS tab has several features to help you work with your gedcom data.

  1. In the Ancestor List, note that ancestors on your maternal side are in maroon font and those on your paternal side are in blue.
  2. You can sort the list by clicking on any of the headers. (The born/died sort feature sorts by day of the month rather than year. I’ve requested that be changed to sort by year.)
  3. At the bottom of the list are a name search field and a set of filters. The format for the search field is as described earlier: surname, comma, given name.
  4. Play around with the radio button filters. The Maternal and Paternal ones reduce your list to only your ancestors through your mother or father, respectively, while the X List shows only ancestors who could have contributed X-chromosome DNA to you. Click the Both filter to show all of your ancestors again.
  5. Click on a name in your Ahnentafel list. The grey field at the bottom right will be populated with the information in your gedcom file about that person.
  6. GMP can find surnames in common between your gedcom and those of your DNA matches, but only if the spellings are the same. You can enter alternate spellings in the field at the top right. To enter alternate spellings, simply click in the right-hand column for a name, and enter alternate spellings separated by commas.

Cultural aside: Most Acadian/Cajun names have changed spellings over the 400 or so years of our history, thanks to illiteracy and to the vagaries of phonetic transcriptions under French, English, Spanish, French (again), and American rule. One that has remained remarkably consistent is “Hébert”. Think about that: It’s pronounced AYE-bear (not HE-burt), and yet it’s almost always spelled Hébert or Hebert (without the accent aigu). In fact, the only alternative for Hébert that’s taken hold is “Manuel”! (Don’t ask.)

Map a Segment

Now that we have gedcom data imported for one or more profiles, let’s see how we can use it to map our chromosomes.

  1. Switch to the CHROMOSOMES tab.
  2. Find someone for whom you know the most recent common ancestor (MRCA), and double-clIck on their name to go to the RELATIVE DETAIL tab for that person. In the example below, I’ll use my cousin Bryan.
  3. In the RELATIVE DETAIL tab, click on the DNA COMPARISON subtab.
  4. Select a segment in the “DNA Segments for {Name}” panel on the left. I usually start with the largest one. This list will include segments shared by the match and each of your profiles, so be careful to select a segment for the profile you’re currently working with. For example, Bryan matches both me and my mom, so I make sure to select a segment he shares with me (nickname “Geeky”), not with her (“Mom”).
  5. Use the radio buttons at the top of the center panel to select the side on which this match is related to the profile person. Bryan is my mom’s cousin, I chose “Maternal”. Doing this assigns the segment to one side of your tree and has the added bonus of filtering the list of possible MRCAs to just those on that side. If you have a large gedcom, you will quickly learn to appreciate this trick!
  6. Use the pulldown lists at the top center to select the MRCA (or MRCA couple) shared by the profile person and the DNA match. Bryan is related to me through my great grandparents, Sidney Hébert and Julia Hébert. Yes, they were both Héberts! If this were a half relationship, I would only select one MRCA. (See the end of this lesson for some thoughts on assigning “MRCAs”.)
  7. Click the SAVE SEGMENT button at the bottom right.
  8. Note that the segment has now been assigned an “M” (for maternal) in the list on the left. I can also click in the “Group” column to assign a label that has meaning to me. For example, I chose a historical location for this segment.
  9. Now, switch back to the CHROMOSOMES tab. The person’s name for the segment you just assigned to MRCAs (Bryan, in my example) will now be in bold lettering, and that segment will be represented as a colored bar in either the paternal or the maternal grey chromosome at the top of the window.
    Congratulations! You’ve just mapped your first segment in GMP.
  10. If you share more than one chromosome with the match, double-click on their name again to go back to the RELATIVE DETAIL tab.
  11. To quickly assign all of the remaining segments to the same side, MRCA(s), and group designation, hover your cursor over that first segment in the list, and right-click to get a menu of options.
  12. Select “Mark Side, MRCA and Group for Profile”, then click YES to confirm.
  13. Now all of the segments shared between you and that DNA match will be assigned to those MRCAs. (If you come from an endogamous population, you may need to evaluate each segment independently.)
  14. I can use the same approach to assign MRCAs to the shared segments between my mom and Bryan. Even though the MRCAs are the same for me and for her, the “side” for her is paternal (P), because Bryan’s father and my mom’s father were brothers. It’s easy to get confused about “side” when you’re working with multiple profiles!
  15. Assign MRCAs to segments shared with other matches at your leisure. Notice that segments assigned to different ancestral couples will be in different colors. (Those can be changed later.)
  16. To see the results of your handiwork in one place, click on the SEGMENT MAP tab.
  17. In the panel on the right, you will see an overview of all of the segments you’ve mapped so far. Well learn more about the SEGMENT MAP tab in a later lesson.

Philosophies of Segment Mapping

GMP asks you to assign segments to an MRCA or MRCA couple (“Select Male MRCA”, “Select Female MRCA”) shared by the profile person and the match. In the case of MRCA couples, each of the shared segments could have been inherited from the man or the woman, and assigning them to both partners in the couple does not distinguish between the two.

Some people prefer to avoid ambiguity by assigning segments one generation closer rather than to the MRCA. Using Cousin Bryan as an example, if I assign our shared segments to our MRCA couple, I’m essentially saying that some of those segments were inherited from Sidney Hébert and some were inherited from Julia Hébert, but I don’t know which is which.

Instead, I could have assigned the segments in my profile to their son, my grandfather, and removed any uncertainty. Whether the segments came to me through Sidney or Julia, I know that they all came to me through my grandfather.

Which philosophy of segment mapping to use is entirely a matter of preference. Whichever you pick, I recommend that you use it consistently.

Getting Started with Genome Mate Pro Series

47 thoughts on “Getting Started with Genome Mate Pro, Part 9 — Import a Gedcom”

  1. Thank you for taking the time to post these “lessons”. They are tremendously helpful!

    Having discovered through DNA testing that I am 24% “Iberian peninsula” and spending an inordinate amount of time unpuzzling that web I see by your examples that we are “cousins” somewhere in that line.


    1. Are you Cajun? If so, there’s a significant Spanish influence there. Also, ancestry from southern France can be labeled as Iberian because of the proximity of those populations.

      1. I’m Texan myself, lol. It comes from my great grandmother’s line (didn’t grow up knowing that side) who was a Boudreaux. It’s tickles me as on Ancestry DNA there are some people that I match with via 5 different lines. I’ve got the whole gang of Dugas, Domingue, Brien, Vaisse, Sanchez, Boudrot, all the way back to Acadia. It’s been quite interesting learning about that portion of history I sadly knew nothing about.

      2. Not sure if my reply went through but yes, apparently I’m a good portion (24%) Cajun/Acadian.

        Was raised a Scotch-Irish Texan 🙂

        Great grandmother was a Boudreaux. My DNA matches are fun because I match some people through 5 different lines. Unfortunately I know squat about this side of my family.

        Maybe you can answer a ? for me. Could the Acadian line have any Scandinavian in it? I’m supposedly 24% of that as well.

        1. Boudreaux … yeah, you’re part Cajun all right! The Acadians have no Scandinavian that I know of. I think that’s just an artifact of certain alleles being widespread in northern Europe and not enough reference samples from France.

  2. Leah,

    Well, the chromosome mapping does seem to work, if you can logic out the side properly, which is nowhere near obvious because of the multiple profiles. But it is tedious. The right-click shortcut is important enough that it should have been made a button (to copy to the other profiles) and I’m still not really sure what to use the Group for.

    Worst of all, you’re teasing us again. In #6 of Features of the Ancestors tab, you say: “GMP can find surnames in common between your gedcom and those of your DNA matches.” and you tell us how to add alternative spellings.

    But you don’t tell us what to do to find which of our DNA matches have surnames in common with us.


    1. Yes, I am teasing you. I want you coming back for more! 🙂

      We can’t do surname searches yet, because we haven’t imported that data for our matches. We’ll get there. I promise.

      GMP switched to right-clicking a while back because there literally isn’t room to have a button for each of the many utilities. It’s not intuitively obvious that it’s there, but once you’re used to it, it becomes second nature to right-click.

      1. I used the Generic GEDcom format in Legacy to export the gedcom. (GMP user manual pg. 123). No change in screen, did not get a new screen that let me “Select Profile Name.”

    2. Hi Louis
      I have to agree with you about needing to work out the sides properly. Of course I put my parents as M and P to me but that seems to cause issues, so I thought about it some more and have put them as B for both as are MRCA is actually my Granparents and their parents. So rather than looking at it from me personally, it needs to be taken from the MRCA we share. Great thing with loading B means it doesn’t show on the chromosome map and clutter this up and I work out you can still have a side and group name with a coloured segment but not record the MRCA and this will still change the segment colour in the chromosome browser and not clutter up the segment mapping……good for first cousins. Only thing it does’t do is bold the person on the chromosome page.
      I saw you also mentioned you weren’t sure what to use the Group for – I have been recording the MRCA couple e.g. SMITH/JONES and then this populates to the chromosome page and you can immediately see which common ancestral couple your match descends through :).

        1. I noticed what messed up the segment mapping the most for me was not M/P (maternal/paternal) flags, but putting my mom as the MRCA on, well, my mom haha. I’m using the “alternate” MRCA model where you only select the ancestor you know the common DNA passed through.

  3. I sent a reply about the problems I was having with importing a gedcom. Apparently, the problem is with Windows 7. When I imported my husbands gedcom to GMP on his Windows 10 computer, it seemed to work and brought up the right screen to select his name on the left and I was able to click on ‘load ancestors’ on the right.

    1. Thanks so much for the update. I’ll edit the post to recommend Windows 10 if people are having trouble.

  4. Question about Segment Mapping (Part 9) –
    I have a 6c (paper trail) who is a “double cousin” in that we have two sets of MRCA. Two brothers married two sisters.

    Is there a way to map the single segment of DNA we share to both sets of 5th gt grandparents?

    Thank you

    1. No, you can’t map it to both sets of 5GGPs. Personally, I wouldn’t want to, because I don’t know which of them it came from. What I do instead is map to the most distant ancestor that I know the segment came through. For example, if it’s a 2nd cousin, I don’t know which of my GGPs gave me which segment, but I know for sure that they all came through my grandparent, so I assign them to the grand.

  5. Thank you for the clarification. I’ve been assigning MRCA couples to the matching segments.

    In my example above, I don’t know which one of the four shared 5gt grandparents the single matching segment is from. So, instead of assigning it to one of those two couples, I should instead use my 3gt grandfather since he is a descendant of all four of the 5gg.

    Is that correct?

      1. Thank you.

        Assigning MRCA couples to segments has worked well – until I got to that 6c mentioned earlier.

        But, thinking ahead now – when I load Family Finder, 23, and Ancestry, I will be dealing with matches on my paternal grandmother’s father’s branch. The ancestors of this great-grandfather include:

        His paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were 1c1r.

        And his maternal grandmother was the aunt of his paternal grandfather.

  6. G’Day Leah
    Thanks for another great article, I like the fact that the chromosome mapping is within the program, makes processing simpler and tidier having it all in the one place but DNA Painter is more interactive in the sense you can hover your mouse over the coloured mapped area and it would identify who the match is that shares that MRCA etc.
    Sorry, another couple of questions today 🙂
    1. Speaking of colours, I loaded 4 different MRCA and 3 had the same colour segment and the 4th was a very similar colour, hard to distinguish any difference. I tried to change the colour from the option page by clicking on the group as recommended on FB page and I also tried to edit the group name through the Segment Match tab, but the ‘select colour’ hyperlink was grayed out. Another GMP user had previously written that you need to change the ‘permanent’ tick box to a tick! I did these and was able to change my colours but of course cannot untick the tick box. It seems unusual that I had to go to these extremes to change my colour and if I need to edit anything in the future that want be possible as I can’t untick this box……is there any other work around?

    2. I was wondering with the GEDcom, I’m guessing as your segment map and MRCA(s) are linked to this that if you were to upload another GEDcom, then you would have to go back and map all your segments again, a bit like FTDNA and having to relink all your DNA rellies again – can you please confirm this?

    Thanks again for your time with this series, it is wonderful and I don’t think I would have even gone there if it wasn’t for your tutorials :).


    1. Hi Leah
      Just wanted to let you know that I have finally sorted the colours issue I was having……..seems you have to be very specific where you hover your mouse over the groups in the Options tab…….i.e. not the name but the little coloured rectangle :). It would be good if you could select a colour immediately from the Relative Detail, then DNA Comparison tab where you map your segments, esp as I am using the Group option to record my MRCA(s) names and would colour code from the start :).

      I’d still like to know about the GEDcom update query, although I assume I am jumping the gun a bit and you will be able to add to the Ancestors Tab, as I have been able to edit it.

      I have another question though (surprise surprise :)).
      When you are in the Segment Map tab, is their and easy way to identify which match has given you a particular segment, as previously mentioned it would be great to be able to hover over the coloured segment and for this to tell you the match name, or if this could be incorporated to show down the bottom of the screen with the other match details i.e. Chr #, start – finish and MRCA(s). I have worked out you can click on ‘Edit Match’ and this will show the match’s name in segment source box but if you do the same to the coloured segment on the graph, the segment source box does NOT show the match’s name – is this an error???
      In a number of cases I have multiple people confirming several of the same segments and it would be nice to be able to group these people for easy identification of those segments and also for single matches.
      Hoping you can answer the above, once again thank you 🙂

    2. The default coloration is shaded by how far back the MRCA is. You’ll have to contact the developer to ask for changes to the customization.

      You can load a new gedcom without having to re-map your segments.

  7. Thanks so much for your posts. I have loaded my gedcom file, but am having trouble. Only maternal ancestors seem to be importing. My gedcom file is from I have restored from my backup in GMP and tried this 3 times. Any ideas what my problem may be? Thanks for any ideas or help you can give!

    1. In the Ancestors tab, check that you have the radio button for “Both” selected down at the bottom.

      1. I have tried selecting every radio button and searching for specific surnames. When highlighting myself, the data in the lower right box does not show a father, nor my spouse, which are both in my family tree on Additionally, I see above in Import a Gedcom for a GMP profile person step 15 that your results are consecutive 1 through 24. My results are 1, 3, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 24, etc. Not sure if this means anything. Any other ideas? Thanks!

        1. Sounds like you have the “Maternal” radio tab selected. Go to the Ancestors tab and, at the bottom, select the radio button for “Both”.

  8. Hi Leah
    Thanks for your reply. Yes, I realise that your Mum is an ‘M’ for maternal and Dad is a ‘P’ for paternal but I noticed this would ‘fill’ the entire segment map on the chromosome mapping page, making it harder to discern other matches. Close relatives don’t need to be on the segment mapper as we know who they are. It also affected the Paternal and Maternal bars at the top of the page. When I entered my brother as ‘B’ for both, it didn’t do the above, yet is still gave him a segment colour and bolded his name on the chromosome page, meaning I had actioned this match. This was also the case with my children and I found it easier to work with for clarity and organisation on both the chromosome page and segment mapper, so I thought I would pass my suggestion on to others as it may be of some help :).

    1. Assigning someone to M or P doesn’t affect the chromosome mapping. You have to go in to the segment and assign a MRCA for that to happen.

  9. In your example, you were able to assign your cousin to your maternal side for your MCRA. The only profile I have besides myself is my brother. Therefore our MCRA’s are our parents. I selected our largest cMs as you suggested, but how can I assign it to either of our parents? I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know any of the other people on the chromosome tab. While I have TONS of them, I believe most of them are French Canadian from whom my mysterious grandmother must have descended, but that doesn’t help me here.

    1. Start with your top match (other than your brother) and figure out how they are related to you. Then, you can assign those segments to an ancestor. Then, go on to the next match. The more distant the match, the more difficult it is to find the MRCA, which is why I recommend starting with the top matches.

  10. Hi there,

    I have a separate GEDCOM file for my Dad’s paternal line because it’s questionable. I haven’t come across any DNA matches on Ancestry with a common shared ancestor to verify that this tree is correct. I have for most of my other lines. Is this tree going to mess up my results if I ended up taking a wrong turn somewhere when building out my tree?

    Thanks for your insight!


    1. You can replace the gedcom. If you’ve mapped a segment to an ancestor who is not in the replacement gedcom, that map assignment will be lost, but the others should remain.

  11. Just wanted to thank you for these lessons, you definitely have a talent for clarification and anticipating the questions that a new user would have at any point in the process.

    I have a question about profiles; I see that you have both yourself and your parents. I also have tested myself & both parents, and I manage the DNA of several cousins. If I have a profile for each parent, is there really a need to add myself as well? And if I’m not interested in the heritage of the cousins, but only use them to help me figure out how to place new matches, there would be no reason to set them up as profiles either, would there? Or does adding a close match as a profile help you in some way?

    Right now, I’m just working on one profile (my mother). I was considering having my father in a separate database entirely, so I don’t have to *think* about which profile I’m working on at any given time. I’ve run the “are your parents related” function at GEDMatch, so I know there is no overlap between the sides!

    1. Which profiles to create will depend on your goals. If you’re only interested in using your cousins to assign your own segments, you don’t need to create profiles for them. Then again, if you want to use their matches (and have access to them) to find relatives (and the common ancestors) who happen to share more with your cousins than with you, you might want profiles for them.

  12. When I select the maternal radio button, all but myself shows. When I select the paternal radio button, no one shows. When I select the both radio button, all show. When I select the x radio button, 19 people show including myself. It is like there is a problem with importing all of the data. Any ideas? Thanks for your continued help!

  13. I have assigned sides to 2 matches as explained in part 6 of your series. I haven’t mapped any segments yet as that appears to be a little later in part 9 of your series. I got to the middle of part 9 and have been trying to figure out why all of my gedcom doesn’t seem to be importing/showing.

    1. Have you looked in the User Guide? If you can’t find the answer there, I suggest you ask in the Genome Mate Pro group on Facebook.

  14. Hi, I’m new here and loving this detailed info. Besides being new, I’m an adoptee. I know nothing of my birth family except what I’m finding through Ancestry, etc. which at this point is likely a half sister in terms of closely related (besides my daughter). Her data is not on GEDmatch, though it seems likely her daughter is (but no GEDCOM).

    In this case, without a tree that I *know* is tied to my DNA, what do I do for a GEDCOM? Importing the tree of family I was adopted by doesn’t do anything to tying me to DNA relatives. When I search GEDmatch for DNA to GEDCOM, there are matches but many/most are hidden, so presumably of no use. I’d love to be wrong about that.

    If I missed your helpful info at some point, would you kindly point me to the link?

    Many thanks.

    1. You can create a dummy gedcom that has your parents as “birth father” and “birth mother” and your grandparents as “paternal grandfather”, “paternal grandmother”, “maternal grandfather”, and “maternal grandmother”. That will let you map segments to those lines in the absence of real names.

      That said, I rarely use GMP for adoptee searches. A more effective approach is to use shared matches and to build quick-and-dirty trees for your matches to find their connections with one another, then to use WATO to figure out how you might fit into those trees. To understand WATO, I recommend you start with Part 7 of the series, then go back and read the whole series from the beginning:

      1. Thanks! I’ll run with the names & DNA we know and build from there. I appreciate the guidance. Hopefully we can get the half-sister (we’ve been slowly messaging) and a cousin we’ve found who is also connected to the half-sister via their dads/uncles to get trees going that I can use.

        I appreciate the pointing back to Part 7 and continuing to learn more through your lessons.

  15. Hiyo,

    Thanks again for this terrific series. I think I mistook “export a gedcom for one of your GMP profile people” to mean to export a GEDCOM for each person individually, which I did with one person but it obviously wasn’t right so I exported & imported my entire GEDCOM. But perhaps re-word the phrase? 🙂

    I wondered: how to you assign parentage with 1/2 cousins, when both individuals of the couple are known but only one is a shared grandparent. Thanks!

    1. Step 11 under “Import a Gedcom” tells you how to use the same gedcom for other profile people.

      For half cousins, assign the shared segments only to the one shared grandparent.

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