Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA

In the new Concepts series titled Managing Autosomal DNA Matches, we’re going to be working with your DNA information from several sources. In order to create matching spreadsheets, you’ll need to download your autosomal information from Family Tree DNA.

Sign on to your account and click on “Matches” under the Family Finder section. You can reach this section by either clicking on the “myFTDNA” link in the upper left corner, or by clicking on the Matches option shown on your main page.

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We’ll be downloading two files.

File 1 – Family Finder Matches

The first file is a list of your matches. That file download link is found at the bottom of your match page in the lower right hand corner.

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Click on either orange button.

A file will download.  I create a file folder by date and save by download date.

On a Windows PC, you’ll be given the option of downloading and saving to the location of your choice.

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The file contains a list of your matches along with other relevant information.

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You can click on the graphic above to enlarge. Match information includes name, e-mail, match date, relationship range, suggested relationship, total shared cM, longest block, haplogroups and ancestral surnames.

File 2 – Chromosome Browser Results

The second file you’re going to download is your file that contains the matching segments with all of your matches.

To find this link, you’ll need to select someone, anyone, to compare in the chromosome browser.  We just need to get to that page, so who you select doesn’t matter.

This is my mother’s account, so I’m selecting me to compare.

On the dropdown box below the picture, select “compare in chromosome browser.”

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Family Tree DNA will then add me to the list of people to compare.  You could select 4 more, but in this case, we simply want to get to the results page, so click on the big blue compare button.

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Hint:  If you aren’t actually comparing people, you can take the shortcut to the Chromosome Browser by clicking the Chromosome Browser button beside the match button in the middle of your main page.

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Regardless of which way you get to the top of the Chromosome Browser page, at the top of the chromosome browser page, you will see three options.

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The first option, on the left will only download the matches currently showing in the chromosome browser.  In this case, it would be only for me and mother.

The second option shows the same data in a table.

You’re not interested in either of those two options. You want to click on the third option, on the far right, “Download All Matches to Excel,” which will produce a file with the following information for all of your matches.

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This file shows you the matching information on each chromosome location for every one of your matches.  We’ll be using this information to group relevant matches in the next article.

When you’re ready to download the files from Family Tree DNA to your computer, do the download for all people involved on the same day, at the same time, so that their results will be in sync.

Preparing for the Managing Autosomal DNA Series

For the first part of the Managing Autosomal DNA Matches series, you’ll want to download your results and those of your parents or parent, as described above. If you don’t have living parents, you’ll want to download the files of your siblings.  If you have one or both parents, you don’t need the files of your siblings.

By the way, if you’re lucky enough to have grandparents who have tested, by all means, we need their file too.

This series also presumes at least a rudimentary working knowledge of Excel.  Specifically you’ll need to know how to sort correctly (meaning sort the entire spreadsheet, not just a specific column) and how to colorize cells.

You may want to refer to training videos for Excel including “Twenty with Tessa, Tips and Suggestions for Spreadsheets” which is focused on using spreadsheets with one name studies and genetic genealogy, but the principles are the same.

I have not taken this class, but some have joined and taken the basic Excel class which they found very useful.

Transferring Results from Ancestry and 23andMe

For the next step, you’ll need your results and those of both or either of your parents at Family Tree DNA.

If you have tested your parents or siblings at Ancestry (before the middle of May 2016) or at 23andMe on the v3 chip (before November 2013), you’ll want to transfer their files to Family Tree DNA, assuming they have not already tested at Family Tree DNA.

The transfer is free, but it costs $39 to unlock the file.  That’s a lot less than retesting.  It takes a few days to process, so do the transfer now so that you’ll have their results. To be clear, we need your results and those of either or both of your parents at Family Tree DNA for the first article.  If you have both parents, that’s the ideal situation.  If not, one parent will do.  If you have grandparents, by all means, we need them too.

Having said that, in future articles, we will also be working with other known relatives, such as uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.  If you have tested other known relatives elsewhere, now would be a good time to transfer their results as well, although we won’t utilize their information in the first article.



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52 thoughts on “Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA

  1. I have no parents or siblings that have been tested. How will this work for me?

    On Wed, Jun 8, 2016 at 11:55 AM, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

    > robertajestes posted: “In the new Concepts series titled Managing > Autosomal DNA Matches, we’re going to be working with your DNA information > from several sources. In order to create matching spreadsheets, you’ll need > to download your autosomal information from Family Tree DNA. ” >

    • I hope you have some known relatives that have tested. You will still be able to group and match, but it’s much, MUCH easier if there are known relatives available.

    • You will still learn how to group, and you maybe able to find a common ancestor between the groups of people that triangulate. So no, I would not ignore it. The parental matching part won’t be relevant, but the matching portions, match groups and triangulation groups will be.

  2. Roberta, There is an easier way to get to the tools on FTDNA using the MyFTDNA Menu at the top left when signed in. No clue how long it’s been there..I just happened on it the other day.
    I had been getting to it by selecting someone too.
    MyFTDNA—>FamilyFinder—>Chromosome Browser

  3. Can I do this if I don’t have a parent’s test at FTDNA? My mother tested at 23andMe but with chip 4.

    • You can at GedMatch, but you won’t be able to pick up the parent matches at FTDNA without your Mom’s results there. We’ll be using the common matches to determine who is on which side of your family. Can she test at Family Tree DNA?

  4. Roberta, maybe I missed something (I was out of the country for a few weeks recently) concerning Ancestry files and transferring to FTDNA. I did see that they are changing their chip. Will there be an an issue with transferring to FTDNA because of the new chip?

  5. I do not have parents but my daughter is on there also. I take it that although I am waiting for a sale to transfer my sister over now might still be a good time to do it. Should I also encourage my nephew to transfer? He is a half nephew biologically. My daughter was transferred over on 3/3/2015 when they had a transfer sale of $24 at that time. Sadly I wish I had transferred my sister then also since I have not seen a sale for it since.

    • Your daughter’s DNA is not helpful to you, but your DNA is helpful to your daughter. Your sister’s DNA is helpful to you. I haven’t seen a transfer sale in a very long time. Your nephew is only helpful to you if he is not the child of the sister who you are going to transfer. If he is her son, he’s not helpful to you or her.

    • The reason your daughter’s DNA is not useful to you is because she only got DNA that you have, while your sister received some of your parents DNA that you did not receive.

  6. I no longer have parents, aunts or uncles. None of my siblings have tested. I only have a first and second cousin on my fathers side that have tested. How much harder will it be to determine which of my matches are maternal or paternal?

  7. Hi Roberta, I must be missing something. I have several kits that I would like to transfer to FTDNA but, for the life of me, I cannot locate the tool to accomplish this. Do I have to create a new user account for each person. Maybe that is where I am going wrong. I have spend about three hours looking for a way.

  8. Roberta: I’m deeply grateful for DNAeXplained and the work you do. Thank you. Thank you!
    Your concepts article “Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA” has brought up a question: Is it possible to do something similar on GEDmatch by using a Lazarus file? Our Lazarus file compares 2 grandsons in a direct fraternal line (Kit 1) compared with 5 of their assorted cousins (Kit 2) who stem from the grandsons’ father’s sisters. The goal is to get as close as possible to the closest mutual relative (who is grandfather to Kit 1 and a great grandfather us cousins in Kit 2), while producing the smallest meaningful file.

  9. You should probably mention that you can do all this in one step at DNAgedcom has an FTDNA-supported direct interface to FTDNA’s database and can download all your same match and segment information that you can get as you described – plus all your in-common-with matches as well (which you can’t get from FTDNA through the “front door”. And it all happens in a minute or two in most cases.

  10. Please tell me more about the new Concepts Series. What do you plan to discuss? I have completed downloading my autosomal data outlined in this post. What’s next – and after that?

  11. Roberta,

    If one transfers their original files from Ancestry to FTDNA, might there be a slight variation in ethnicity results at FTDNA compared to actually testing with FTDNA?

    • Before the change mid-May, they two companies were using the same chip, so not difference based on the chip. The difference comes from the reference populations and internal algorithms used to determine ethnicity estimates.

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  13. I have all three companies on the same spreadsheet (23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and Gedmatch), and I have colored my Mother’s side orange and my Dad’s side green. Matches from 23andMe are bold and in black font. Matches from 23andMe “old” countries of ancestry are bold and in red font. Matches from Family Tree DNA are bold and in italics. Matches from Gedmatch are bold and underlined.

    I am now thinking about adding a Mom/Dad column to help with filtering and a company column again to help with filtering, since it can get confusing.

    At the present, I have more than 10,000 rows in my spreadsheet with too much duplication that needs to be cut down. It’s quite a daunting task.

  14. I am having difficulty merging my siblings to my Master DNA Spreadsheet. All our matches are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. When I try to copy and paste the new data in it erases the master data as they are numbered the same. Did I miss a step?

    • I’m not sure what you are doing, but you should be doing a copy paste function where you paste the info from the second spreadsheet in the rows beneath the information in the destination spreadsheet.

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  21. I’m not sure what is wrong but when I go to my matches I don’t have either orange button at the bottom. On the bottom left I have the buttons but they are not orange and I get an error message if I click on them. Any possible idea what might be wrong?

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