Many tools have been developed to help users interpret the results of DNA tests.

DNA Painter maps segments of DNA to chromosomes. This helps to show which ancestors gave us which DNA segments, and how new matches are related.

DNA_Painter___Profile_-_Greg_Young 2019 07 18

On the basis of matches with his cousins, I have mapped 28% of Greg’s chromosomes, identifying the forebears from whom he inherited his DNA.

The company,,  has recently introduced a new feature: users can now upload a GEDCOM file directly.

My main tree is on and has 9,992 people, with 1,975 photos, 267 stories and 14,669 records. It contains most of my research about my own and my husband’s forebears.

I regularly download a GEDCOM file as a backup. GEDCOM is a data structure created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for storing and exchanging genealogical information. Many different different computer programs use it. GEDCOM files have
the file name suffix ‘.ged’. The GEDCOM file I downloaded today was 9.6 MB.

I uploaded the file quickly and easily to DNAPainter. I was asked whether I wanted to hide, as private, living people and who I wished to be the starting point. I used our son. His ancestors, of course, comprise my own and those of my husband. The direct ancestors of our son, 624 people that I have identified and documented, were uploaded.

DNA Painter produces a summary report on tree completeness, how many forebears have been identified, compared with the number of potential forebears. The reports highlights pedigree collapse by naming people who appear more than once in your tree.

DNA_Painter___Tree completedness

There are three ways to show the tree:

  • Tree with branches highlighted in different colours

DNA_Painter___Tree 01

  • Fan view. This is more compact, showing more generations but no names. Tree completeness is shown, with grey cells representing forebears that have not yet been identified. Hovering highlights the names and and shows where the person appears more than once in the tree when cousins have married.

DNA_Painter___Tree fan 01DNA Painter fn hover 1DNAPainter fan hover 02

  • Text view showing key dates and places

DNA_Painter___Tree text 01

You can mark people as genetic ancestors, and add notes and surname clues. You can also modify the imported data.

DNA_Painter___Tree DNA filter


I look forward to this functionality being further refined.

update : Frequently Asked Questions answered by Johnny Perl, the developer 

Q: How does it work?
A: You can build a tree manually by simply typing in the names of ancestors, or you can import a GEDCOM file exported from a genealogy site or desktop genealogy software:
– Browse your computer for your GEDCOM file
The site will extract all the people from it into an ‘autocomplete’ list
– Type some letters into the autocomplete box and select the person whose ancestors you want to extract
– At this point, the site builds a tree for the chosen person and saves it in the site’s database.
– The default option is to hide living people, replacing them with ‘Living’, so their details are never uploaded at all. You can optionally override this.
– Another default sets the import to a maximum of 10 generations beyond the home person. Unless you have lots of pedigree collapse, the site should be capable of importing more distant ancestors too. If you’d like to try this, just select ‘Import all available generations’

Q: How do I add new ancestors to my tree
A: Within the tree view, hover over a node and choose ‘add parents’ (or just ‘add mother’ or ‘add father’)

Q: Can I use my main GEDCOM file or should I extract just my direct line?
A: It’s up to you; unless you have a huge tree (e.g. more than 50,000 people), it should be fine to use your entire file.

Q: Why can’t I find myself in the list of people extracted from my tree?
A: When you created your GEDCOM file, it may be that it was privatised by your desktop family tree software. You might be listed under ‘Private’ or ‘Living’, for example.

Q: Do you store my GEDCOM file?
A: No, your GEDCOM file does not leave your computer; instead, the site extracts just the ancestors of the person you select.

Q: What is the maximum filesize?
A: The file can be reasonably big (since it’s not being uploaded anywhere!), but needs to be less than 60MB in order for your browser to be able to load the list of people. If you have an older or slower computer it may need to be smaller than this.

Q: Is my tree private?
A: Yes – just as with the chromosome maps, a tree is only ever viewable by you, the person who created it, *unless* you click on ‘share’, in which case a link will be created that allows others to view the tree if they have this link. This share status can be revoked by the owner at any point, at which time the share link will no longer work.

Q: What does ‘mark as a genetic ancestor’ mean?
A: This is intended to help users indicate which parts of their ancestral pedigree they’ve been able to verify via DNA (aka their ‘genetic family tree’). For example, if I have a confirmed DNA match with my 3rd cousin who descends from a sister of my great-grandfather David Heatherington, I might mark David as a genetic ancestor. I can then use the ‘show genetic ancestors’ filter to show just the ancestors where I’ve identified DNA connections.

Q: How can I get the help info to come up again?
A: Click the ‘?’ Icon at the top right of the toolbar on a tree page.

Q: Can I link ancestors in my chromosome map to my tree?
A: Not yet, but this is being developed at the moment for release later in 2019.

Q: Can I download a picture of my tree?
A: Not right now, but this feature will be added in future.


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