DNAGedcom Client

DNAGedcom provides an incredibly cool tool that has helped me immensely with my genealogy research, particularly at Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. This tool doesn’t replace what Ancestry and Family Tree DNA provide, but augments the functionality significantly.

I’ve been frustrated for months by the broken search function at Ancestry, and the DNAGedcom tool allows you to bypass the search function entirely by downloading the direct line ancestral information for all of your matches. So let’s use my Ancestry account as an example.

Utilizing DNAGedcom

After installing the DNAGedcom tool on your system, sign on to your Ancestry account through the tool. The tool downloads all of your matches, the people you match in common with them, and the ancestors in your matches’ trees.

The best part about this is that the results are then in a spreadsheet file that you can simply sort utilizing normal spreadsheet functions. I wrote about using spreadsheets for genetic genealogy in the article, Concepts – Sorting Spreadsheets for Autosomal DNA.

In my case, this means I can see everyone who I match that has an Estes, or any other surname, in their tree. I don’t have to look at my matches’ trees one at a time.

You can read about this very cool tool at this link, including how to subscribe for either $5 per month or $50 per year. Many functions at DNAGedcom are free, but the Ancestry tool is available through a minimal subscription which helps to support the rest of the site.

After subscribing, the DNAGedcom client will become available to you on your subscriber page at DNAGedcom.

Please note that you can click to enlarge any image.

After you subscribe, you’ll see the link for the Ancestry download tool, along with other resources.

You will want to follow the installation directions, exactly, to download the DNAGedcom client onto your PC or Mac in preparation for downloading your Ancestry match information onto your system. This is painless and goes quickly.

Next, you will be prompted to sign in to both DNAGedcom and Ancestry, through the tool, and then you will be prompted for three separate steps at Ancestry:

  • Gather Matches – took about 10 minutes
  • Gather Trees – let’s just say you might want to run this one overnight, and on a directly connected system, not wifi. Mine was about 25% complete at the 2 hour mark
  • Gather ICW – another several hours, but you can do other things on your system at the same time

The downloaded files will be stored on your computer as .csv files. On my PC, the default location was in the Documents directory and the files are named as follows:

  • a_Roberta_Estes (the ancestors of my matches)
  • icw_Roberta_Estes (the people I match and who I match in common with them)
  • m_Roberta_Estes (information about the match, such as cMs, etc.)

It’s important to make a note of this, as I didn’t find the file names documented elsewhere.

The good news is that even though these steps take a long time, having all of this information in a place where you can sort it and use it effectively is extremely useful. You can run the various steps at night or when you aren’t otherwise using your system.

In addition, if someone is sharing their DNA results with you on Ancestry (which they can under the settings gear), you can download the same data for their account – and then you can look for commonalities between groups of results using the DNAGedcom Match-O-Matic tool, also described in the introductory document.

Using the Downloaded Files

Personally, what I wanted to do was to search for all occurrences of a particular surname. Fortunately, it was Claxton or Clarkson, not Smith.

Simply using Excel (after saving the results file in Excel format), I was able to quickly sort for these surnames, an example shown below. Hmmm, I wonder if Claxon is relevant too. I never considered that possibility – nor would I have ever seen Claxon in a surname search, because I wouldn’t have searched for Claxon..

I’m brick walled on the Claxton line in Russell County, Virginia in about 1799. My ancestor, James Lee Claxton, was born someplace in Virginia about 1775. Utilizing Y DNA, we know of another man, also named James Claxton, born about 1750 first found in Granville and Bertie County, NC, who sired an entire lineage of Claxtons who migrated to Bedford County, TN.  However, that James is not the father of my ancestor, because that James had a different son named James. Other than these two distinct groups, we can’t seem to match with anyone else who has tested their Y DNA at Family Tree DNA, so my hope, for now, is an autosomal match with a known Claxton line out of Virginia.

(Shameless plug – if you are a Claxton or Clarkson male, please test your Y DNA at Family Tree DNA and join the Claxton DNA project. If you have Claxton or Clarkson ancestry from any line, and have taken the Family Finder test or transferred autosomal results from another vendor, please join the Claxton/Clarkson DNA project at Family Tree DNA. If you have Claxton or Clarkson ancestry and haven’t yet DNA tested, please do.)

Therefore, my goal is to find matches to other Claxton or Clarkson individuals who don’t share a known common known ancestor with me. Because we don’t share a known common ancestor, of course, these people would never be shown as an Ancestry green leaf “DNA+tree match,” nor is there another way for me to obtain a surname list like this at Ancestry.

After finding Claxton candidates, then I can refer to the other downloaded files or sign on to my account at Ancestry to look at the match itself and other ICW matches. Hopefully, some of my matches will also match some of my Claxton cousins as well, which would suggest that the match might actually be through the Claxton line.

The DNAGedcom client also downloads the same type of information from 23andMe, which isn’t nearly as useful without trees, as well as from Family Tree DNA.

Thanks so much to www.dnagedcom.com.



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32 thoughts on “DNAGedcom Client

  1. you don’t udnerststop sending me stuiff From: DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy To: beauty_model@rocketmail.com Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 10:20 PM Subject: [New post] DNAGedcom Client #yiv1786480127 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv1786480127 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv1786480127 a.yiv1786480127primaryactionlink:link, #yiv1786480127 a.yiv1786480127primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv1786480127 a.yiv1786480127primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv1786480127 a.yiv1786480127primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv1786480127 WordPress.com | Roberta Estes posted: “DNAGedcom provides an incredibly cool tool that has helped me immensely with my genealogy research, particularly at Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. This tool doesn’t replace what Ancestry and Family Tree DNA provide, but augments the functionality significa” | |

  2. I’ve been using the client for some time and LOVE it. Well worth the minimal subscription.

    Keep up the fantastic work.


  3. “Shameless plug”, Shame is only a word sprayed on the brick wall we’re attempting to knock down in our lineages. My shameless T-shirt, “I seek dead people. I’m a genealogist.”
    Thanks for the review of a product I did not know existed.

  4. Just a note. You say he couldn’t have been the father, because “that James had a different son named James.” Well, I was browsing some pension papers and saw someone with two sons with the same name…because he had two wives. I guess the second one wanted to name a son after her husband also, so she did. Something to think about.

      • A 2X great grand uncle had two sons with the same first and middle names. The first one died at about two years old while the 2X gg uncle’s wife was pregnant. From that pregnancy she delivered a son and they gave him the same name as the first. The middle name was the wife’s maiden surname.

  5. Roberta, Some time ago I found that you will compile dna data into a paper for individuals. I would like to have that done for both my brother and myself. We are both in ftdna and I am also in Ancestry and MyHeritage. Who should be done first?

  6. I keep having problems with no data other than column names in the files and receiving a message that “Object reference is not set to an instance of an object.” I have no idea what the message even means.


  7. I’ve been using this tool for a some time, although I only run it occasionally as it takes so long to run and does fail to complete fairly often. It’s immensely helpful, however. A few things you can do with the information:

    Sort the ICW file by icwname and icwadmin and see matches beyond 4th cousin (AncestryDNA’s limit) who are a shared match with an individual of interest. You can then go to that person’s match page on Ancestry and see the rest of their information, any tree or Preview Tree, other shared matches, etc.

    The ICW file gives you a match’s name and any administrator’s name (matchname and matchadmin in the spreadsheet). To get around Ancestry’s lack of a match name search, you can use Search/Member Directory with the admin’s name to find the match. Or, one of the column’s in the Matches spreadsheet is the url to a match’s match page (and column is an url to their tree, if one exists).

    The Matches file also contains a column for any notes you have associated with a match. This is a great backup for this vital information and also allows you to search those notes.

    As you mentioned, sorting the Tree file and doing various sorts (names, dates, locations) can yield insights that you might not otherwise stumble upon.

    Thanks for the great blog,

  8. According to page 4 of the installation instructions, this is only available for Windows PCs. It states that the MAC version is in development. I’ve kept an eye on this for a good while and I don’t know how long it takes to develop a MAC version but it’s been a long time. Since I only have MACs I am out of luck.

    I love your blog,
    Tom McLehaney

  9. Thanks for this post, Roberta! I love DNAGedCom; the match list is just the best. (I track the associated GedMatch kit numbers in my match notes, and love having all my key info handy in that one spreadsheet.) Thanks for the info on the tree list; I’ve never used that function (until tonight), having heard horror stories about how long it takes to run! Pulling the tree list took a mere 11 minutes! It must be a function of how many matches one has…I have 13,288 matches, only 223 4th cousins, and less than half my matches have linked trees.) My ICW list is only taking about an hour to run.

  10. I find the DNAGedcom client extremely helpful for quickly locating my 5th-8th cousin shared matches. About 10% of them match my 4th-6th cousins and with over 15,000 matches, it is too time consuming to view all of them at Ancestry. Sometimes I cannot identify the shared ancestor with a 4th cousin, but I can with the 5th cousin.

  11. Thank you for helping with this (and for your many helpful posts)! A question for you and/or anyone with relevant experience:
    Will this work for someone with well over 50,000 matches on Ancestry? Or is it not feasible or practical. I don’t know if that is considered a very large number of matches but thought that if it is I should get some helpful tips before attempting. I have more than that many, and my half-sister has more than I. I stopped counting at much over a thousand pages of matches (at 50 per page). But I need something to make using these matches more efficient (trying to break through a few brick walls)!

  12. Roberta:

    Like dlnab asked, how many rows did you end up with for your Ancestry Matches? Before they took away the ability to know how many matches you had, I had over 65,000. I’m wondering how long it would take to get all of them and their matches and their trees ;^( Being able to restrict it to 4th cousins or closer would make it more useful to me.

    The DNAgedcom tool for GEDCOM with DNA matches with trees, seems to be a more practical tool.

    Thanks for your work,

    • I have about 50000 matches and the Client does download them successfully…but it takes hours.

      There is an option to skip remote cousin matches. I haven’t run it lately, but it used to be much faster. I have about 2000 4th cousin matches.

  13. I have a limited data download plan and a “hotspot” access to internet service. Do you think I would still be able to download and use this program without breaking the bank? Hours to complete scares me 🙁

  14. I have been using AncestryDNA Helper for a while but I’m interested in looking at DNAGedcom. Quick Question wrt ‘…The tool downloads all of your matches, the people you match in common with them, and the ancestors in your matches’ trees.’ When you say ‘the ancestors in your matches’ trees’ can I take that to mean the individuals listed in the ‘Surnames [10 generation pedigree]’ portion of the Match Details page or would that be something else?

    Side question… I have not seen any change in my number of ‘Shared Ancestor Hints’ for the tests I manage in a LONG time. I’m concerned that Ancestry may be getting to where they stop indexing the trees because of shear volume of data, Do you know when they last indexed and what we might see in the future?

    Enjoy your blog… Thanks

    • I know that the direct line is covered for several generations, but I never thought to check and see if it was for the entire tree or just the 10 gen pedigree. I have received Shared Ancestor Hints recently, although not many. Their Black Friday sales were huge, so hopefully by the end of December they will begin rolling in again.

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