• Devon Noel Lee

Settings Experienced Genealogists Should Change on Ancestry.com Right Now



Are you an Ancestry.com subscriber and want to make sure you get the most out of the platform and have the best experience possible? Then I invite you to try to change some of the settings on your trees, protect your privacy, and enhance your family tree profiles.

Change Your Site Preferences


Site preferences on Ancestry.com help you filter out the hinting and messages you receive. You're telling your virtual research assistance how much or little communication you want. Let's review some of the options.

Show Member Tree Hints

Do you want to see hints for other people's trees show up in your hint list? Now, I have written about Tree Hints versus Record Hints before and which ones professional genealogists prefer. Ancestry lets you choose if you want to see either one or both.


I'm not a big fan of the Member Trees. But, if I get stuck, then I'll look at them. Thus, I turn off the member tree hint suggestions. Yay!!!


Ancestor Hints


These hints are a little bit different than the Member Trees. The Ancestor Hints will show up on your pedigree chart or in your DNA match tools. What Ancestry does is recommend potential ancestors for you based on other members' family trees. Of course, not all of the recommendations are going to be accurate. But I don't mind this one as much as the tree hints in the hint list.


Now, I prefer to leave this on. I recommend you do that as well.

Which Trees For Hints?


You can upload more than one tree to your Ancestry account. In this video, you'll notice that I have several separate family trees. This is because I am working on a variety of projects in the Southwest of the United States. So you can see the different tress I have there.

Look at the hint icon in the top menu bar. When the drop-down menu pops up, from which trees do you want to see hints?

For example, maybe I only want to see hints from my Geiszler/Brown tree. Then, I can select hint prompts for that tree and turn off suggestions from all other trees.

This action is not permanent. We can change the hint preferences at any time.

Community Preferences


Do you want to connect with other family tree researchers?


Please be honest here.

  • If yes, choose the connect through Ancestry's message system.

  • If no, then select "Do not allow other members to contact me."

If you choose the option that members can contact you, I hope you'll respond when you get messages.

Tree Color

Did you know you can change the color of your family tree in the pedigree view?

Well, you can. You can choose the background colors to be either gray, blue, teal, purple, or white.

To see how to adjust the Ancestry.com settings, watch this video.




Notification Preferences on Ancestry

I might be odd, but I don't particularly appreciate receiving tons of emails in my inbox from different websites that I actively use. Ancestry allows me to customize the communications the platform sends to my inbox. Be sure to adjust yours to fit your research needs. You can opt to receive emails or on-platform notices for each of the following categories.


  • Family Tree Hints - You can choose which specific trees you want Ancestry to inform you of new hints.

  • DNA Matches - Whether you made one or multiple kits, you chose how to receive messages about new DNA matches or ThruLines.

  • Family Tree Collaboration - Do you want an email each time other users update their family trees with photos, stories, or records?

  • Education - how do you want to learn about new record collections, tools, or being a better genealogist?

  • Feedback - Do you want to help improve the Ancestry platform?


The ability to change how Ancestry.com communicates with you is one sanity saver that I hope you'll take advantage of immediately.



↪️ Do you want to dive even deeper into genetic genealogy, writing family histories, and climbing your family tree? Join the

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Adjust Your Ancestry Family Tree Settings on


For each tree, be sure to add details in the following option:

  • Tree Name

  • Tree Description - Let others know the purpose and the goal of the tree you're building.

  • Build Stories for Tree - This impacts the timeline in an ancestor profile. Do you want Ancestry to turn facts into a story starter?

  • Select the home person for the base pedigree chart. (Also, identify who you are, if applicable, in the tree.)

  • Privacy Settings -

  • Do you mind if other users find your family tree? Use the Public Tree option.

  • Do you want your research privatized but take advantage of genetic genealogy tools like ThruLines? Then select the Private Tree option.

  • Are you working on a theory tree or a client research project? Then make your tree private but also select the option to "Also prevent your tree from being found in searches."

Suppose you ever want to export your family tree to save to your computer, use for GEDmatch, MyHeritage, or Findmypast. In that case, you'll see the export option. If you want to transfer information to FamilySearch, use RootsMagic and watch this video to learn about that process.



Your Ancestry Public Profile


Ancestry's internal research studies have shown those who have a public profile with a photo and a little bit of biographical information receive more responses from other researchers. If you want to take advantage of the collaborative nature of Ancestry, be sure to:

  • Add a photo

  • Write a brief biography.

  • Identify your family history experience level

  • Specific your research interests - be clear about the lines in your family tree you most want to investigate

  • Answer some fun questions

  • Express whether you're willing to help others

It isn't often someone who isn't an Ancestry employee tells you to change your setting preferences on Ancestry.com. However, as I have adjusted my settings, particularly the email notices and my profile, I have interacted with this genealogy website more positively than before.

Plus, I'm really digging the teal background on the pedigree chart and ancestor profile pages. Which color do you like?



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