Unattaching Ancestry’s Self-Attaching Trees

I had really come to really dread the e-mails from people who say they are going to invite me to view their family tree at Ancestry.com.  It’s not because I don’t want to see the tree, I do.  It’s because Ancestry does me the huge favor of “attaching” that tree to my account like a very large parasitic blood-sucking leach.  They’ve assumed that every tree I look at is “family,” and that my attachment to that tree is “forever.”  And better yet, every time someone does something, anything, to that tree, I receive a message that says “New content has been entered to your family tree.”  Well, Ancestry, it’s not MY family tree and I NEVER asked you to do me any favors by attaching some random tree I’m looking at to me.  In fact, I specifically don’t want you to do that, but like normal, I don’t get to vote.  This is called “too much help” and anyone who has ever loved a 2-year-old knows all about “too much help.”

So, the random tree is firmly attached to me.  Now the question is how to remove the parasite.

First of all, I need to determine if I really do want the tree attached, meaning it is a tree I might want to reference, or if I simply want to detach it.  For DNA project administrators, most of the time, you simply want to detach them from your own personal records.

However, if you want to retain the connection to the tree, you can simply disable the notifications.  Those constant notifications are the part that will make you crazy, and the more trees you have attached, the crazier the notifications will make you.  Disabling notifications is relatively straightforward.  You need to go to your name in the top right of your screen and in the drop-down menu select “My Alerts”.

ancestry trees 4 v2

You can then change the delivery notification for each tree you have access to. The options are off, daily and weekly.  Yes, it’s a pain to have to do this to disable something you never wanted in the first place, but it’s only once (per tree) and it removes the bombardment of unwanted e-mails.

ancestry trees 5

Discovering how to remove the trees is more tricky.  However, once you’ve figured out how to do this, it’s relatively easy.

Fly your cursor over the Family Trees tab.

Ancestry trees 1

Some have a “More” option.  If so, click on it.  Mine didn’t.  If not, then click on the olive Family Trees Tab itself, not the drop down options.  You’ll then see “My Trees” and “Trees shared with me.”  Click on Trees Shared with me.  There is it, the blessed “remove from list” button.  Click and they are gone.

Ancestry trees 3

This is a frustrating dilemma because genealogists do want to share their information but it shouldn’t become a burden to either party.  It’s too bad Ancestry doesn’t give you the option to “save the link” or simply, by default, just look.

Debbie Kennett suggests that if people want to make their tree available online to their matches she finds MyHeritage is a much better alternative than Ancestry. You can upload a tree for up to 250 people free of charge. The big advantage of MyHeritage is that anyone can see your tree without needing to have an Ancestry subscription or
an invite.

Thanks to Ann Turner, Debbie Kennett and Jim Owston for their assistance with figuring out how to get rid of these self-attaching trees.  Once you know how to do this, it’s not difficult, but figuring out the procedure was anything but straightforward.



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18 thoughts on “Unattaching Ancestry’s Self-Attaching Trees

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I do not have as many as you but I tried several times to figure out how to end the unwanted emails. I probably would not have agreed to look at any others but now that I can eliminate the emails I’ll be able to say okay again!

  2. Thank you! I did not know why I was getting all these notifications. I finally just made them spam, not knowing what else to do. Now I can fix it.

  3. Have you read the terms and conditions to MyHeritage? The site is very similar to Ancestry so I read the profiles on those involved and the background of information. Very interesting! It has many nice features and some differences.

    I would recommend everyone read the Terms and Conditions you agree to in using the site.

    Beverly Horttor

  4. I would also recommend to people that they read the profiles of the CEO and all involved. They are very well educated and interesting to learn where they received their education. Locations of headquarters is also interesting. Beverly

  5. Thanks Roberta! I’ve been invited to various trees because we have a common ancestor and it’s easier to share the info when you can access it directly, however, you then have to ask them to ‘un’invite you. This is a much better solution!

  6. Thanks Roberta…while I abhor ancestry..I wish someone else would come up with a similar system, without the charges to share your tree online. Yes, heritage looks pretty, but it’s cumbersome and you can’t view as much detail to a page as with the ancestry format which is more traditional….I think if they/Ancestry charge others (require a paid account to view/access) then they/Ancestry should pay me for the privilege of listing my tree as a potential match to folks to entice them into subscribing! I mean they are using our data as advertising when you come right down to it! Don’t get me into false matches and ‘stolen’ gedcoms that go along with the low ethics of ancestry in general! UGH!

    • One of the nice things about Rootsweb is that you can upload notes with the trees. These notes can include things like deeds and wills and such. On Ancestry, you can only include their sources that you attach to their records unless you want to write a “story” and attach it separately.

  7. Roberta,

    This article just proved very beneficial to me. I don’t use Ancestry’s family tree other than I have filled in just a few names. A Y-DNA member sent me a private one that I wanted to see. I messed up some how. She is resending. Much to my surprise, forgetful I guess, I found two attached Tucker trees! Navigating through them is another matter, such as bringing up the old style forked ancestry chart so that it is readable. I finally figured out how to progress family sheet to family sheet. However, I don’t see yet how to print out a lineage, if possible, such as a decendancy chart.

    “In your spare time,” and if you are so inclined, maybe an abbreviated instructional blog would be in order. Thanks.

    / Bill Tucker, 20652

    • Bill,

      I struggle with Ancestry also, truthfully. I don’t know of any way to print out a lineage, for example. I do think Ancestry has a blog of thier own. You might check that out and ask there. The instructional blog might already exist someplace.


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  9. Hello Roberta,
    I’m new to familytreedna and your blog is really helping me through the maze of information. Need your opinion on email that dnafamilytree.com send out on a huge discount $99 offer to join myheritage ending 31Jan2014. I see there’s a facebook account on myheritage complains so your help is needly soon. Thank you very much.

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