Beginner GEDmatch: What Tools Should I Use First?

Many people have asked, if you're just getting started with GEDmatch, which tools should you be using? These over four genetic genealogy tools that you should be using, in the order you should be using them to process your DNA data and compare them with others.


GEDmatch has a lot of tools and can be overwhelming. Now, I've created videos on how to use lots of the different specific tools. And hopefully, I'll get through all of them this year. If you're just getting started with GEDmatch, you will want to use these four tools in this order first.

  1. Are Your Parents Related?

  2. One-to-Many Comparison Tool

  3. People Who Match Both or One of Two Kits

  4. One-to-One Autosomal Comparison


Are Your Parents Related?

Why would you want to use this tool? You can read the post, Can DNA reveal if your parents are related? that shows more about this tool. In essence, what you want to do is to identify whether or not you're going to have problems sorting your matches.


The majority of your matches can be sorted into two columns. Those that are related to your father and those that are related to your mother. In other words, you inherited that DNA through one of those two lines.

Unfortunately for those whose parents are somewhat closely related, you end up sharing a little bit of DNA that you got from both your mother and father. Then you may have matches that could be from either one. Now, your parents could be second, third, fourth, or fifth cousins. As such, you don't know which line you inherited from one because you got that same DNA from both your mother and your father.

But like I said, the majority of people do not have this problem. You're probably going to come up with, "No, they're not related." And then, you know, going forward, that you don't have to worry about whether they might be in both or if they're one or the other.


Watch this video for a complete explanation of why these tools work in this order on GEDmatch.


Video: Gedmatch the tool order for beginners


One-to-Many Tool

As discussed in the post An Overview of the One-to-Many Tools on GEDmatch Genesis, this is your shared match list. This list has the people who match you with DNA.


In GEDmatch, the One-to-Many tool is a quick and dirty way to analyze your matches. What you can do from this list is identify those to who you are most closely related.


While there are two One-to-Many tools, I would almost always use the beta version. It gives a lot more information, and I think it's organized better.


With these results, you're going to start to focus on where you want to do your research. I would typically start with those who share at least 50 centimorgans or more. Strive to identify who they are and how they're related to you.


Once you've exhausted that list, then you can start to look at some of the others. But this is a good starting point. And it actually is a segue into the next one.


People Who Match Both or One of Two Kits


As I mentioned before, DNA matches usually fall into a maternal side or a paternal side. Well, this tool is going to help you to start to divide those results. It's a way to sort your matches into groups.


For instance, let's say that you have a cousin that has tested and uploaded their DNA to GEDmatch. If you do a Match Both, you will find a list of people you and your cousin both match.

Now, you happen to know that your cousin is related through your mother because your cousin is the son of your mother's sister. Then that means that list that matches both of you is all related through your mother. They're all maternal cousins.

Your shared matches reveal that a specific kit belongs to a certain side of your family tree.

You can do this with second cousins, third cousins, and really anybody you know how they're related to you.


To accomplish this task,

  1. Start with the matches from the most closely related to you that appear on the One-to-Many match results.

  2. For each of those closely rated, run the People Who Match Both of Two Kits.

  3. Discover which ones start to group together.

  4. If you actually know the relationship of any of those kits, you can assign them to your maternal or paternal lines. Or even more specifically, your paternal grandfather or my maternal grandmother.

If you can identify relationships, you can begin grouping these matches. Find out which DNA matches go together. And now, you're actually able to start to do some research into these different kits.

One-to-One Autosomal Comparison

And with that, you're going to go to the fourth tool once you have a better idea of how somebody is related to you and maybe some of the other matches that are related to them. It's time to start looking deeper into this match using the One-to-One Autsomal tool.

This tool is going to show you on which chromosome where you and your match share DNA. And where that segment is located on that chromosome.

Now, this can be used in conjunction with this DNA match group you discovered. When you look at each one-to-one match, do you see anything in common?


For instance, you know that five people all share a segment that is the same location on chromosome 12 that everybody else does. That's an indication that you all received that segment from the same common ancestor in your family tree. This information can help you find more cousins and validate your genealogy research.

The bigger the segments are, the more closely related that ancestor might be, although not always. So that should help get you started.


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Give GEDmatch a Try

These four tools should get you started comparing your DNA, no matter where you tested, with others who have used commercial genetic testing companies such as Ancestry DNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA, and Living DNA. The key is the folks you want to compare with must first download their raw DNA data and upload their DNA tests from these websites to the GEDmatch database.



Additional GEDmatch Blogs to Read


Check out these additional GEDMatch blog posts to extend your genetic genealogy research.



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