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GEDmatch Tutorial: How to Compare Family Trees Using GEDcom Tools

family tree with title explore the GEDcom tools on gedmatch

Do you have a GEDCOM file on GEDmatch? If so, there are tree-matching tools that you can use to help you find other clues to help progress your genealogical research.

Before we talk about the tools, first let’s make sure you know what a GEDCOM file is. GEDCOM stands GEnealogical Data COMmunication. It is a file format that allows different genealogy software programs (or online trees) to share genealogical data between each. Think of it as a .doc or .pdf file extension.

The company GEDmatch actually started out as a GEDCOM matching program. The website created tools for matching GEDCOM files and these tools are still available to use with the added power of DNA.

After signing in, scroll down and look for the right-hand column for the GEDCOM tools list. I’ll share how I like to use these tools

1. Search all GEDCOMs

This is one tool that is the easiest to understand and you don’t need a GEDCOM file of your own. This tool searches all of the GEDCOM files (about 100,000) that have been uploaded to GEDmatch. Similar to many of the other search databases, you’ll type in what information you know about an ancestor that you may be looking for.

Enter in a name, a place, and a birth date.

When I enter John Smith, born 1800, in the United States and the click “search,” GEDmatch will return results from all of the GEDCOM files for these parameters.

You click on GEDCOM ID and you will see a snapshot of information about each result. This may include where he was born, who are his parents, spouse, and children.

You can also view a pedigree and a descendants chart for each person.

2: One GEDCOM To All

This tool compares your GEDCOM file compared to others. To use the tool you need your GEDCOM ID, which is different than your DNA Kit ID. This means you need to have a GEDCOM file uploaded to GEDmatch.

One GEDCOM to all tool on GEDmatch

Enter your GEDCOM ID and then use the default thresholds on the tool to begin. If you receive too many results, then you can change those defaults to limit the number of results you receive.

You’ll receive various possible hints such as this:

You’ll see the match along with the contact person who provided that information (not shown in this blog post) and if a DNA kit is attached to that GEDCOM file.

In addition to the information you see above, you’ll also see any parental names (if any).

Then you can decide whether or not this is a match. If you ever confirm a match incorrectly, you can press “remove confirmation.”

You can dive deeper into the GEDCOM files that you match by clicking on the icons under “individual”. The blue and red icon will take you to a descendancy chart and the solid blue icon will show you an ancestral pedigree chart.

VIDEO How to Compare Family Trees on GEDMatch

Watch this video on YouTube.

3: Two GEDCOMs Comparison

This next tool allows you to compare two GEDCOM files to each other. You’ll need to know the GEDCOM kit numbers that you want to compare (these likely come from the previous tool).

This tool will compare your two trees and only return matches from your genealogical trees. This should go quicker because GEDmatch is only comparing your kit to one specific kit and not all of the kits in its database.

My results look very similar to the previous match tool, but yours may have many more results. You can use the pedigree and ancestral icons to view and compare your trees further.

4: GEDCOM + DNA Matches

This last tool is one of my favorites! For this tool to work, you need a DNA kit number. I used one of my DNA to see how this works.

When the results pop up, you can see is a DNA match list but the matches have to have a GEDCOM file attached to them. This is great if you’re looking for certain trees.

When you see “HIDDEN” in the DNA name and GEDCOM name column, those are living people. Typically, you’ll only see a name in these columns if the person is deceased and listed that way in the GEDCOM file (such as Berton Lee)

The reason why I like this so much is that now I can actually go to any of these kits and since I know that they have some pedigree information I can start do a quick search to see what matches I might find.

↪️ Confused about DNA and genealogy?

Grab your copy of this FREE DNA guide:

DNA strand with the title Free Guide Answers to the Most Common DNA Questions asked by new genealogists

Have you used the GEDCOM tools on GEDmatch?

Those are the four tools that GEDmatch has for GEDCOM file matching. Use these tools to see whether or not you can find common ancestors in your DNA match list rather than having to go through each line to see if you have an individual that you recognize on their tree.

The BENEFIT of this GEDmatch GEDCOM tool is that it allows you not only to compare DNA matches in one company’s match list but across multiple DNA testing companies and then add those DNA matches to a genealogical tree for great results.

If you haven’t added your DNA tests to GEDmatch, you need to upload a kit to take advantage of the GEDmatch genetic tools. View the following videos to make that possible:

While you are at it, download a GEDCOM file from Ancestry, MyHeritage, RootsMagic, FamilyTree Maker, or other platforms and then upload them to GEDmatch as well. This video will help you do just that: Uploading a GEDCOM File on GEDmatch.

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