Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Mailbox: Square Portraits Are Back!

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxWho says is not listening? In a major reversal, Ancestry has reverted portrait photos to squares, similar to Old Ancestry. They are also adding a cropping tool, a feature not available in Old Ancestry. That makes it convenient to use a single group photograph as a source for multiple portraits.

They have also tweaked readability by bolding the name of the person and adjusted some spacing issues. They acknowledge the user complaints about white on black text, but haven’t indicated any plans to address it.

I don’t have a clear before shot, but here is an old, low resolution one from the Ancestry Blog:

The old oval portrait on the New Ancestry

The portrait is now square and the text is bolded:

The new square portrait on the New Ancestry

For more information, see “The New Ancestry: October 8th Feature Update” on the Ancestry Blog.


  1. There is a solution that I tried and am extremely happy with. I stopped paying ancestry. I left my tree there. I made my tree private and uploaded a copy with no documentation showing for my DNA matches. If anyone contacts me I will answer. I have the ancestry software, no getting around that for the time being but that doesn't mean I have to do all my research there. I've found many, many things on other sites all for free. Often the original document is available, too. I'm happy to say I don't miss ancestry. I feel like I've done a good job finding documentation for my ancestors using other sites. And don't forget other countries have web sites for their history, often including census and tax lists. For instance, I've found lots of information on East Riding, Yorkshire, England. There are email lists for surnames, and locations lists where local people know where to look and what to look for. Google knows. I'm a member of the old folks club, no money to squander. ancestry's new scrapbook pages forced me to think of alternatives and by golly, they're everywhere, with new sites all the time!

    1. You just voiced exactly what I said to a customer service agent with Ancestry last week. They aren't the only ones in the game any longer and that 90% of what you pay them for is available for free through other options. And like I told her, You may have to use more than one free site to find the records instead of just one like Ancestry....but they are out there! (Even 1790-1940 census images!)

      And with MyHeritage and Heredis2015, Ancestry is no longer the only one with software that syncs to online trees!

  2. Yes! It's a start, but to me only a start. I wish they'd abandon the depressing grey. Do you know why they're so committed to it? Soft blue, soft green, even a softer grey (maybe!) would be so much more attractive. Also, unfortunately, and not wanting to seem unappreciative of the return to squares, they have made the top/bottom or side bars on non-square (ie., rectangular) images black--they're very visually intrusive IMHO. On Old, the edges were completely unnoticeable because both the bars and the background were the same (white). And it's clear the black bars were a choice, since on the Oct. 8 blog the examples had grey bars, not black ones (see the photo of FDR). But, to me, this is disappointing. The background and the bars should clearly be the same color. Because even though the cropping tool is useful, many of my already-uploaded photos (of things like tombstones) are very rectangular and not croppable without losing too much of the (visual) information. So, I'm left with black bars or a square that can't contain the entire image. This diminishes my happiness over the end of portholes. (I KNOW it may seem picayune given their finally coming around on the circles, but I want them to continue doing good things that make the pages more attractive. So, IMO, one step forward but still a lot of changes needed before the New site is aesthetically acceptable to me. It's OCD-ish but hey! This hobby requires a tetch of OCD-ism.)

  3. I can't think of anything that I like about the "New Ancestry" and I have tried. It seems to me that many of the changes were made just to make it different and for no other reason. They have dumbed down some things and I also seem to have to go through more steps for almost everything I do whereas before I could easily edit. I have a hard time finding things. I suppose that in time I will learn but for now editing and finding things is a pain and I waste a lot of my time editing and adding to my trees and searching for things that were easily found in the "Old Ancestry". My internet connection (via cable) is intermittent and I need to do things quickly. Lately, the combination of "New Ancestry" and an intermittent cable connection make it nearly impossible to do anything.


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