FamilySearch Updates Enhance your Experience

July 2, 2020  - by 
Woman working on family history on laptop, family in background.

To keep you up to date on the latest FamilySearch experience changes, we will be listing them here chronologically. Check back often to see how your FamilySearch experience has improved!

Update August 18, 2020—Changing “Like” to “Bookmark” in Memories

The Like buttons on FamilySearch Memories pages will now say Bookmark instead of “Like.” This term better matches how the buttons work. The bookmark feature will continue to allow you to mark your favorite memories and see them in a Bookmarks collection, which can be found in the left sidebar of the Memories Gallery.

Screenshot of Bookmarks link on FamilySearch Memories page.

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Update August 18, 2020—Set Privacy on Specific Memories

On FamilySearch.org, you will now be able to select any memory you have uploaded or story you have created and make it private. This feature will be available for all types of memories, including photos, stories, and audio files. Private memories will be viewable only by the person who uploaded or created the file.

Although FamilySearch Memories is primarily a place for people to share photos and stories, there may be times when you may not want a memory to show on a public profile or on a Memories search results page.

Visit the Memories page or open the Memories App (available on iOS or Android) to see how the new privacy feature works. Hover over an item in the Gallery, and click the checkmark. Then click Actions,and, in the list of options, click Make Private.

Screenshot of how to make memories private on FamilySearch.

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Update: July 13, 2020—”My Contributions” available on Desktop Site

Previously, the “My Contributions” feature, which allows users to see ways that they have helped to build the FamilySearch Family Tree, was only available on the FamilySearch Tree App. Now, the feature is available on the desktop version of FamilySearch.org. To access “My Contributions”, select “Family Tree” on the FamilySearch header. A drop-down will appear; the last option, “My Contributions”, will allow you to view the work you have done to further your genealogy.

Check the FamilySearch Blog for more information on the “My Contributions” feature.

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Update: July 13, 2020—Changes to Watch Feature and Watch Notifications

The Watch feature on FamilySearch.org—which notifies you of changes to a person’s information in the Family Tree—has been renamed “Follow.” This term is similar to what other social media sites use and is more intuitive. In addition to this name change, the Lists drop-down menu option is now labeled “Following.” The Following page shows a list of the persons you follow and a history of recent changes.

To follow a person’s changes in the Tree, you can click Follow on their profile page. Also, anywhere an ancestor name appears in Family Tree, you can click the name to show the Person Card, and then you can click Follow. To unfollow a person, click Following. Notice that the star is filled in when you are following the person.

follow person card
Following drop down screenshot

You can view a list of the people you are following and see all the changes to them for the last 60 days. Just click the Following tab found at the top of the Family Tree or person page.

Notifications of changes made to people you are following will now appear only in FamilySearch messages or notifications, rather than in an email. This change helps avoid excessive messages and unnecessary cluttering of your mailbox.

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Update: June 07, 2020—Improve Place-Names Online Volunteer Opportunity

In the past, FamilySearch has used automation to help improve place-names that are missing standards—but automation can do only so much. A new tool is available (on both desktop and mobile) that allows you to help improve place-names by matching them with a standard place that can be recognized by a map.

This simple volunteer opportunity takes very little time but has a big impact on the Family Tree. With better place-names, FamilySearch can provide more free record hints and can map your ancestors’ life events more accurately.

Learn more about the improve place-names tool, or try it now.

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Update: June 17, 2020—No Longer Using Labels

The label tool in the right sidebar of FamilySearch person pages will no longer be used as a way to note an ancestor was part of a well-known group or participated in a historical event, and the corresponding labels (previously shown in the top right corner of a person page) will be retired.

Example from Before Update:

After Update:

While existing labels will be removed, FamilySearch users can still add rich details about their ancestor’s involvement in these groups and events by using these different methods:

  1. Add a source showing the person’s involvement.
  2. Use the Other Information feature to add an event or fact about the person. (This feature allows you to pick from common types of events and facts or create a custom one.)
  3. Add important biographical details to the person’s Life Sketch.
  4. Create a story or attach a document sharing the details of your ancestor’s involvement.

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Update: June 4, 2020—Add a Topic Tag to More Than One Memory at a Time

Earlier this year, FamilySearch added the topic tags feature to Memories. Topic tags make it easier for users to categorize and find memories later. Now you can add a single topic tag to multiple memories at the same time.

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Recent improvements to Memories have made searching Memories easier and faster than ever before. Below are a few updates you may notice to the search experience:

  • Results now display up to 10,000 artifacts per search.
  • Boolean search strategies—such as using AND, OR, NOT, “phrase,” and wildcard*— are more effective. (Learn how to use Boolean search.)
  • Stop words (words that search engines typically ignore) are now recognized by language.

Stem searches are now supported by language. For example, a search for “fish” will turn up search results with related words such as “fishing,” “fished,” and “fisher.”

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Update: May 28th, 2020—Updates to Account Creation for Children

It is now easier than ever for children ages 8–12 to create a FamilySearch account. Parental permission is still required for children in this age group to create a FamilySearch account; however, the process has been streamlined. A new option was added to allow parents to use a text message to confirm their permission for their child’s account. Parents can also use a mobile number to give their child permission to create an account, and they can use the same mobile number to recover the account. So you and your family members can create accounts using only one mobile number.

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Update: May 15, 2020—Change Log Updates

The change log for ancestors in the FamilySearch Family Tree has been updated, making it much simpler to see changes made to an ancestor’s profile. To view the updated change log, go to an ancestor’s page, and, under the Latest Changes tab, select Show All. A page will open that shows in a simple-easy-to-digest summary every change made to that ancestor’s profile.

the latest changes tab on FamilySearch

It’s also now possible to filter changes using a button on the upper right side of the page. Select an option to see all changes related to that option—whether it is a change in a relationship, an alternate name, life events, and more.

the latest changes tab on FamilySearch

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Update: May 7, 2020—Change to Indexing Group Reports

To preserve privacy, information in indexing group reports has been updated to show only a summary of the records indexed and number of people participating. This updated report also helps indexing groups and indexing group coordinators focus more on accuracy over quantity of indexed batches.

Have you ever joined an indexing group on FamilySearch.org? Or created one? An indexing group is a great way to collaborate and stay motivated while indexing. Even better, you can participate in an indexing group remotely or in person, whichever best fits your circumstances.

For some fun ideas of how to index as a group without relying on individual statistics, read this article.

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Update: May 5, 2020—Standardized Places

A systemwide update will take place for a small percentage of places listed in the FamilySearch Family Tree that are not standardized properly. FamilySearch strives to have standardized places and dates to improve record matching and other user experiences.

In cases where a place listed in the Family Tree is not a location, FamilySearch will remove the attached standard, though the original text entry will remain. When the standard is removed, the change will appear with the contributor listed as “FamilySearch” and the date the change occurred. This change will cause a data problem message to appear for vital events. Users who notice the data problem can correct the standard by editing the place data.

This update will help provide more standardized place entries, resulting in better record hints and better matching for possible duplicates. It will also help improve discovery experiences on FamilySearch.org.

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Update: April 9, 2020—Additions to Record Merging Process

Merging two records into one can be an intimidating process. However, new updates to the merging process can help you make the decision. For example, when you begin reviewing possible duplicate records, you may see a merge warning at the top of the screen. This warning lets you know if the two records have previously been merged and will give you some of the details.

merging updates familysearch

Additionally, the merging process now displays the possible duplicate on the left and the current record on the right. This change means you are merging the record on the left into the record on the right. This simple adjustment matches the rest of the website and will help the process flow more smoothly.

Learn more about the merging process.

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genealogy chart - FamilySearch fan chart

FamilySearch.org users now have more printing options for the fan chart display on Family Tree. Not only can they print a fan chart that shows up to seven generations, but any of the seven fan chart views can be printed. These views include Family Lines, Birth Country, Sources, Stories, Photos, Research Helps, and Ordinances.

Learn more about the Family Tree fan chart.

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Update: March 5, 2020 —Mobile App Fan Chart Update

The FamilySearch Family Tree app now has a new way to see your family story—the fan chart, which was previously available only on a laptop or desktop! To turn on this feature, go to your app settings, and select Enable Fan Chart View. You can toggle this selection on or off as desired.

With the fan chart view enabled, you will see a small button in the lower corner that allows you to customize your fan chart view. The fan chart view can show four to seven generations and can be viewed from several perspectives—family lines, birth country, number of sources, stories or photos attached to profiles, and which ancestors have research recommendations. Latter-day Saint users are also able to view which ancestors have ordinances available.

Download the FamilySearch Family Tree app, and give this update a try!

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Update: February 20, 2020—Sharing and Liking Albums, Album Slideshows on Memories

Albums on Memories can now be shared easily to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest via the Share menu in an album.

Share option on Album memories

FamilySearch users can also now “Like” an album. Liking an album is a way to bookmark an album that belongs to another user. To like an album, click the blue heart Like icon located below the album title. All liked albums display in the user’s My Likes list in the gallery.

Additionally, you can view your album’s photos in a slideshow. To play a slideshow, click on the Slideshow icon below the album title. A window will pop up and give you the options to loop the slideshow or include audio (if the images have audio).

slidshow screenshot

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Update: February 18, 2020—Explore Historical Images Unlocks Data in Digital Records

Have you ever tried searching for your ancestor’s name in online records? FamilySearch, FamilySearch partners, and volunteers worldwide have worked to make over 3 billion records easily findable online with a very simple name search. But did you know that these indexed records represent only 20 percent of the historical records FamilySearch has available online?

Well ahead of any formal indexing or cataloging, the new FamilySearch Explore Historical Images tool can help you find records about your ancestors more easily, even when their information is not text-searchable and seems to be locked inside a digital image. Learn more here.

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Update: February 6, 2020—Topic Tags Added to Memories

FamilySearch Memories released a new feature, “Topic Tags,” that makes it easier than ever before to categorize and find memories.

On the website, the topic tags option is found to the right of images and documents that you are viewing in Memories. Just click the link Add Topic Tags to add tags such as “Recipes,” “World War II,” “Wedding,” and other descriptive terms. Once you start typing, a drop-down menu will give you ideas.

topic tags screenshot

Later, when you want to find memories with a specific topic, you can click the Find tab, select the Search Topic Tags option, and search all of FamilySearch Memories for photos tagged with the topic you are looking for. You can limit your searches to close relatives only by clicking the option Search Only My Close Relatives, found on the search results page.

Find Memories screenshot

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Update: February 5, 2020—Header Redesign on FamilySearch.org

The FamilySearch website has a new, streamlined header that is more readable and takes up less space. The Help menu is now more visible and easier for users to find. 

Also—exciting news!—the new Activities page, created early in 2019, has a prominent position in the main header. To discover more about yourself and your family, simply click Activities at the top of the page on FamilySearch.org

Screenshot of FamilySearch.org new header.

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Update: January 15, 2020—Free 2020 Calendar

FamilySearch has made it possible to print out a free 2020 Calendar that gives you dates that would have been important to your ancestors. This calendar includes birth dates, death dates, and wedding anniversaries. Additionally, it is now possible to get calendar reminders in your FamilySearch notifications. These reminders will notify you on the date of your ancestor’s event, and tell you how many years it has been since that day. Click here to view your own personalized calendar and download a free copy.

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Comments

  1. I am wondering why several of my immediate family have been deleted. Lawrence Leonard Shikert for instance and others. Their work in the temple has been done for years.

    1. There are three Lawrence Leonard Shikert on Family Search using “Find”. Go to each one and check in the Section on the right “Latest Changes” for any Merges that have been done. You may find your Lawrence Leonard Shikert has been merged with one of them. If you find him 1) Write a message (be nice) to the person who did the merge explaining why and 2) unmerge him. That will restore him to your family.

    2. When can you guys have it to where everyone can see , in their family tree, how many unfinished attachments are for each person. the unfinished attachments usually have info that hasn’t been attached, just because we didn’t know how they could be attached.

    3. In my experience, Evelyn Sherron More than likely someone found another person with the same name and even more info attached to where they saw, looking at each person, everything matched. when you go to that person that has been deleted. Their will be something that will take you to the updated person, with the sources that was attached to that person before the addition with the added info of the duplicate person. You can look somewhere on the right of that person that was deleted and it will say who changed it. You can message them asking for understanding on why such and such was deleted. Family search has it to where their is a reason everyone gives before merging two people. Several months ago someone had the same problem, and I looked and the situation I explained above was the same for the person I helped. The possible duplicate had the same info, with added middle name and more sources attached that confirmed it , that matched with the records. Hope this helps.

  2. I am the granddaughter of Paul Jerome and Viola Elizabeth Porter Munger. Paul’s parents were Rufus Seth Reed and Louisa Ann Bundy Munger, not the ones listed here. Paul and Viola Munger had three sons, Hugh Seth, Edward Delano, and Alva Arnold, no Carl.

    1. I suggest you go to collaborate, add your email as a note, then change the information so it is correct. You might also send a note to the person who changed it. Be nice.

    2. I have had that happen and have found while investigating that someone merged the wrong persons together which adds wrong children and wives and parents. They may have the same name and birth, and even a wife with the same name. Check all merges and call the help line or your local FH consultant if you can’t find the mistake.

  3. When someone has latched their research on to your family tree I would like to have more details, such as where this new family came from (or was born) so I can believe we really do belong to the same family. Thank you, Barbara

    1. I have seen that happen before, and in my experience, it happens when they are adding people that is listed in a record. it will pop up suggested matches. people will look at it and compare the names and relationships and bam it matches with a whole bunch of ancestors. when before that add you were limited on going back any farther. thanks to those who added more knowledge to us so we can better connect wives to husbands and kids to parents. Thanks to you indexers that do it full time or as a five minute thing.

    2. Barbara Alderson, and Lee, sometimes source documentation does not identify who or how many additional names are being linked to another person’s family line when it is not based on the birth of children to parents. Once additional children and/or siblings are added these individuals marry and also bare children. Marriage records is a source. Also look at Genealogybank and Find A Grave obituary information.

      When I encounter these situations most of the time, I post a message in “NOTES” to alert the researcher of those other families why the additional people appear and how the individual in their family line is also related to my family ancestry. I have cases in my direct family line of multiple marriages that still result in direct ancestry linkage. To identify these cases I put this information in NOTES.

      The majority of cases involved in attaching more people to existing other family lines is based on marriages and it could be further up the ancestry line (closer to present day) rather than years ago. The additional attachments into other family ancestry is backed into during adds to our individual ancestry. Some researchers are not interested in non-direct ancestry linkage and do not want these additional people linked to their family line(s). I have read and seen here in FamilySearch posts where some researchers want to sever these indirect family attachments.

      In addition to viewing source documents to determine why additional names ae linked to family ancestry the person attaching these people are identified under “LATEST CHANGES” on the persons record(s). We do have the ability to contact these people forwarding inquiries to them. We have to rely on them responding. In my cases for the names where I have added notes, I have not received inquiries pertaining to the additional people appearing in other family ancestry line(s) based on marriages.

      I hope this helps.

    1. Hi Darla! Thank you for your question. Your children won’t be able to connect directly to the same ID that you see for yourself as your record is in your own private space. Each of your children will have a different ID for you, since you are living and these records will exist in their own private space within the FamilySearch Family Tree. They can connect to the first deceased relative that you share. Please check out this Help Center article for more information: What is a private space in Family Tree? Thank you for reading the blog!

    1. click on person’s name, click on memories, click on upload photo, it will bring suggested places you placed the pic in, let s say the pics are in the downloads, click on downloads find the pic you want, click on the pic, go to bottom right and click open. it will take some time to send the pic. depends on how fast your internet is, will how it will take. .

  4. I spend more time fixing what other people have changed on the tree then getting to actually getting to do genealogy anymore. I love sharing and helping but cant we find away to make this problem better ? I have to tell everyone to be careful with the tree information on this site because others are not looking at the documents and just adding and changing what they want. Lets help share and but also make it have some have proof to back up the information!

    1. I understand what you are going through. I print off each Family Group……then you have your copy and ID of each person.

  5. Thank you so much for all the great updates to Family Search. I love all the updates that you added, except the one that took away the Labels like Nauvoo Citizen or what company they came to Utah in. To me, those easily let us see important traits / events at a glance. It would be so nice to have those options back. I’d love a Mayflower option as well for those who came over on the Mayflower.

    Oh, and thinking about future changes to the app for the phone, it would be so nice if we could turn so type of notification service that would notify us when we were going though a city where a direct ancestor was born, married, died or buried. To me a feature like that would bring family history to life more.

    1. Hi Suzanne! Thank you for your feedback regarding the old labels feature. Your suggestion for the app feature already exists. It is called “Map My Ancestors”. You can read more about the feature here. Thanks for reading the blog!

  6. How can I make simple changes to a person in my tree? I get an (!) telling me that something is wrong, but I can’t find how to change it. Please help

  7. Thank you for notifying of us all these changes. We really appreciate it. It would, however, be more of a benefit to everyone if you could notify us each time a significant change is made. Many of these changes which you notified us of today have already been in place for weeks if not months. We have had to notice them (or not) and deal with them (or be frustrated by them) on our own.
    Also, when the list of changes is so long, most people will not take the time to look at all of it. So the notification kind of goes to waste. If there were only one or two changes being announced, more people would benefit from the notification.
    Thanks for listening.

  8. Please allow editing (or adding correct spellings) of indexed records (example: 1900 US Census (It lets you edit the date which seems nonsensical as the records are from 1900, but doesn’t let you edit any names!)). Some collections have this feature but those that consist only of indexed information (no images) need it most (example: Cook County, IL vital records). What would be really nice is if the indexed name found in a Source could be compared to the person name the source is attached to. If they are different, the source index would get an edit with the “correct” name to help others searching for it.

  9. I received a notification in the message icon today (Aug 7) in familysearch (red dot on the bell icon) to click on a link and see what’s new in FS. So I follow the link here and see that the most recent update was on July 13, over 3 weeks ago.
    Why was I sent a notification today to go out and see what was new almost 3 weeks ago?
    How about only sending us notifications when there is something new to see?

  10. In reference to your news “June 4, 2020—Improved Memories Search” I’m glad that you are promoting the use of Boolean search strategies for Memories, but it befuddles me why you haven’t made the same effort to implement Boolean searching for the Digital Library. The Digital Library has outstanding searchable material, but it is far too difficult to retrieve without Boolean searching. PLEASE, PLEASE put the same effort into Digital Library! And while you’re at it, please add some basic guidance to help the novices understand how to use it.

  11. Following instead of Watch list is not very functional. I enjoyed using the watch list as I could manage it by dates and names. This does not seem to be working correctly. I would like to go back to the former Watch list as I was able to keep track of the people that needed temple work completed but were within the 110 year time frame vs. who is changing information on them. Thank youl

  12. I am confused. I have an Allen Dowdle 1795-1858 in my tree, wife is Martha Cavebah 1798-1858, parents are Elizabeth Cropp 1765-1799 and a Pvt. James Dowdle 1758-1802, but there is a listing for this same person with the same wife and children, but his parents say Allen Dowdle 1748-1815 and wife as Nancy 1748-1826. The same children and siblings are listed for them too. How do I know which are his parents when everything is exactly the same for both sets.