Thursday, March 27, 2014

Obfuscated FamilySearch Family Tree Manual

One complaint I hear made about FamilySearch Family Tree is that there is no manual. It turns out, there is a manual. But the contents are secret so FamilySearch keeps it hidden. Just kidding. The part about it being secret is not true. The part about keeping it hidden, well that is more true than you might think.

The secret to finding the FamilySearch Family Tree manual is to stop looking for it among manuals. Instead, look among videos.

  1. Click Get Help in the upper-right corner of the page. (Illustration below.) home page
  2. In the drop-down menu, click Product Support. (Illustration above.)
  3. Scroll down to the blue rectangle labeled Family Tree. (Illustration below.) Product Support page
  4. Click More Training Videos. (Yes. “More Training Videos.”) (Illustration above.)
  5. Family Tree training pageLog in the, if not already. There is different training and manuals for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and non-members. FamilySearch needs you to log in to determine which set to present to you.
  6. Click the Guides and Manuals shortcut, or scroll down to that section of the page. (Illustration to the right.)
  7. View or download either the Family Tree Quick Start Guide or the Family Tree Reference Manual. (Illustration to the right.)

Pretty straight forward; not.

One last caveat. Family Tree changes so fast, the manual is always out of date.

Maybe that’s why FamilySearch hides it so intently.


  1. The manual is so big and cumbersome that it might be easier to watch the videos or read the familysearch blogs in order to find answers to your questions or to find any "how to's" you might have.

  2. It's nice for you to explain how to find the Family Tree user's guide via the FamilySearch web site, but that's doing it the hard way. All you need to do is google "user guide for family tree" and then click on the "Using the FamilySearch Family Tree: A Reference Guide" link that comes up. That will take you to the non-LDS version of the user guide. The URL for this is . If you want the LDS version of the user guide, just add "lds" (without the quotation marks) between and the period preceding pdf, thusly Hit enter and that brings up the LDS version. Of course you could, if you are up to it, just type the appropriate URL (i.e. non-LDS or LDS) into your browser address field and go directly to the user guide of your choice without googling or going to FamilySearch.

  3. Thanks for sharing this info about how to find the user's guide. It never occurred to me to look for one. (It seems these days we learn so much by trial and error.) Anyway, it answered some questions and was helpful in other ways, too.

  4. My comment isn't about the manual but about the Tree itself. I would love to upload my Gedcom to the tree but I have 10,000 people in it and that would be an overwhelming task to try to go through each Merge that would be generated. I wish they had a solution to this. Thanks.

    1. Pat and Jerry. Especially for large GEDCOM files, you may have more success by using one of the third-party programs that have partnered with FamilySearch Family Tree. Many of these products synchronize with Family Tree and can move information up to the Tree and down to their programs and can do so without much work on your part. If you go to you'll find lots of options. Just look for those products which indicate they synchronize back and forth with the tree. Most have free versions.

    2. I can only imagine what uploading 10,000 names would do to the tree. I am sure it would create thousands of duplicates which would sorely upset those who are focused on getting it right with sources attached. It's one tree fir all if us to work on together. I wonder of you are sure those names and relationships are accurate.

    3. Please, please don't upload your GEDCOM. While it may be convenient for you to handle your ancestors in bulk, remember that you share them with others. You will greatly inconvenience everybody else. Please explore the tree first and search for duplicate individuals. Whatever you do, be sure your account is configured with public contact information.

  5. Hi,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Maybe in a few years there will be a link from all tree pages to the videos and print materials.

    They were finally able to decide to unhide the Wiki, so anything is possible.


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