Uploading Documents in PDF Format to FamilySearch.org

October 21, 2013  - by 

New tools now available on FamilySearch.org can help you capture family memories that can be preserved and shared for generations to come. For most families, these memories can take many forms beyond just photos and stories—documents, obituaries, and audio or video files, to name a few. FamilySearch is working hard to add support for as many of these different formats as possible.

A first step is a new option to upload and specify a family memory as a “Document.” An important part of this new designation is the ability to upload, at long last, PDF files. This new feature is now in beta on the site. Here’s how it works:

New option in the navigation

Tool Bar w Documents Tab





The Photos and Stories navigation now contains a “Documents” option. Clicking this button brings you to the “Add Document” page. You’ll notice that the Documents features are currently in a beta trial period. Once we have had a chance to test it with enough users, it will be the default experience for every user.

Add a document

You add a document in the same way as you do a photo. When the Documents Agreement page appears, you must click the agreement box, indicating that you have read and agree to the terms of the agreement. If you do not click the agreement box you will not be able to upload a document.

Document Agreement check box








After you have clicked the agreement button, you will be taken to the page that allows you to upload a document. As part of this update, the file size upload limit for documents (or photos for that matter) has been raised from 5 MB to 15 MB each.

Click Box to Enter








Change a photo to a document

What if you have already uploaded photos of documents as JPEGs or PNGs on the site? You can easily change the designation of any previously uploaded item from photo to document and vice versa using the Options dialogue at the bottom right of the new image viewer (until the new viewer is live, you can access it by clicking the View image in BETA viewer button on any photo page).

View Photo in Beta Viewer 2







Click the Options tag at the bottom of the image to expand the Options menu. From there, click the Change to document link.

change to Document








Share a document

Just as is the case with photos (and stories, albums, and a person’s photos page), you can share your documents through social media or email.

View documents

PDF documents on the site are opened in an Adobe Acrobat window, so navigation within the document should be familiar. You can zoom, jump from page to page, print, or save, among other features.

PDF upload, and the ability to preserve documents as documents, have been some of our most frequently requested features. Give them a try, and let us know what you think.

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  1. I had called support once to find out how to put PDF formats into the story box, it won’t let you click and drag like the photos and documents. I did purchase a program and was able to figure out how to do this for a five page story that my grandmother wrote, but can’t do it now. So the other day I retyped a three page story my deceased husband wrote. I did a short thing he wrote in the documents, but I really want the type written or even hand written word to be under stories where it is easier to read. I have done all my photos, please tell me what to do to not have to type hundreds of pages with my arthritic hands.

    1. Documents are so easy to add to Family Tree. You can drag into the site if you are using Chrome or Firefox as your browser. Internet Exporer doesn’t allow the drop drag feature. Also if you have typed stories that are loose, you and go to a family history center with your flash drive. They should have a scanner – copier, printer where you can form feed your papers and save it as a PDF, jpg, tiff, etc. Then you can use Acrobat Pro and OCR (Optical Character Recogniztion) and save it in Word, or another text program. Many scanners do have an OCR feature to their software.

  2. Can a PDF file be uploaded to family tree/stories? Or is this just a feature of family search? I’ve tried to figure out the proper steps to do this but it’s still unclear. Is there a place which lists the steps?

  3. I have just tried to upload pdf documents [birth, marriage, death certificates] and I keep getting an error message as below and it is frustrating me – can anyone give me some advice

    This content cannot be displayed in a frame
    To help protect the security of information you enter into this website, the publisher of this content does not allow it to be displayed in a frame.

    What you can try:

    Open this content in a new window

    1. Are you using Chrome or Firefox as your browser? Have you tried to have your ward FH consultant help you? Can you go to a FHC where they can see how you are doing it? I haven’t had any problems uploading a PFD document.

      1. Thank you for the advice, I have been trying to upload with Internet Explorer, which may be the problem – will try using Chrome/Firefox.
        This is a terrible time of the year to have problems, with everyone enjoying the festive season
        Thanks again

  4. Help, I have added in error a photo that I do not want of a living relative to family tree, cant find how to delete.

    Does anyone know how to do this.


    1. Go to FamilySearch.org and sign in
      Click on ‘Photos’
      Click on ‘My Photos’
      Find the photo you want to delete and click on it.
      Click on ‘Details’ to the right of the photo
      You will then see ‘Delete this photo’

  5. I can link Documents to individuals that have pictures link to them.
    But when I go to link a Document to individuals that do not have photos I get a blank picture fame in “My Photos” every time with name of the individual under the frame or is this normal.
    Can anyone help.

    1. Try Chrome or Firefox or Safari if you are using Internet Explorer. IE does not play nice with FamilySearch.org sometimes and if you are using an older computer running on Windows XP it is impossible to use IE because IE cannot be updated past verson 8 or so..

    2. When a document pertains to a person, you can add their name to that document. Then it will show up on their person page. However, if the person does not have a picture of them posted, when you are on that document, it will have their name next to a blank circle. If no picture has been added, you can’t see something that isn’t in the Family Tree. I posted one document that pertains to 6 people, so I have attached their names to the documents. Only four of those people have had pictures attached to their person page in Family Tree. Therefore, two of the people have a blank circle next to their name. I hope that this helps.

  6. Hi i,m from spain but i live in Canada and I look if someone know the history of my uncle Benito Gomez Oreiro is my grandmother brother he was moving to france long time ago and I like to know what happen in his life if he have family there . please if someone know about this please e_mail me

  7. Concerning Rev. William Henry Grubb #K48N-V5L who wrote the book, “Mennonites of Butler County, Ohio” in 1916. I want to know why I can’t load this book’s PDF onto the Document section of his memories. He wrote the book and it was written 99 years ago and yet it was marked restricted by FamilySearch. It really isn’t very large but has important family information. Please, I’d really like to know why.

  8. I have documents from a PAF program
    I want to edit them in Adobe Acrobat
    How can I change them to PDF?

    I will be doing this on a Window’s PC

    1. J.M., you should be able to save them as a pdf either through your save section or your print screen, just choosing pdf where you choose a printer. If that doesn’t help at all try contacting FamilySearch Research Support at 18664061830 or support@familysearch.org to see if they know.

  9. This article has helped me a lot. I have tons of photo’s saved in my documents some are saved as a jpeg and tiff. Some as PDF only because I have a new printer and when I scan the photos
    it sent it to a PDF along with my other photo’s so a lot of my photo’s are in filed in my documents. I have been trying to those photos that are filed in documents in my memoirs and have had no luck. So thank you for the new addition of the Document icon to the bar. Can you tell me when that feature will be ready to use.

  10. Upload a pdf document to Ancestry.

    What are the limitations?

    My PDF is 6 pages and includes graphics. I removed hyperlinks. No tables. No headers/footers. It doesn’t upload and I don’t know why????

      1. Ancestry. I didn’t realize I was on a Family Search blog until after I asked my question. Thanks for responding though.

        Ancestry PDF and MSWord uploads are limited. I can’t link the uploaded source to facts such as wedding date or special events,

        1. Actually you can link any uploaded file to a fact in Ancestry.

          Click on the Fact and choose Edit. In the window that opens click Media. You can then choose to link an existing media file to the fact or upload a new file.

          If you have already uploaded a media file and it doesn’t show up when you do the above it is because you have not previously linked the person to it.

          If this is the case click on your user name in the upper left and choose Media Gallery. From within the gallery find the media file you uploaded and click on it. On the screen that shows up find the small box that says “In this tree”. You will see who the media item is attached to (if anyone) and you can link it to any person in your tree from there.

          I guarantee this process works for pdfs and Word documents as I tested it as I wrote this message.

  11. I have my life history book in PDF format 116 megabytes, with written stories and photos, I was wondering if I could upload it to Family Search, or should I send a hardbound book to the Church genealogy library in Salt Lake.


    Robert Larsen

  12. Where is the correct place to leave an obituary from a newspaper…Is it a photo or a document? In my mind, a document is a marriage, birth, death certificate. We seem to have a debate going on at our ward family history building -everyone seems to have a different opinion. Some say photo others say it is a document. I want to make sure that I am doing it right as well as teaching others the correct way.