Improving Genealogy Research with Ancestry Pro Tools: A Comprehensive Guide

by | Dec 16, 2023

Categories: Genealogy Products

Do you struggle to focus on the right group of people in your large family tree?  Do you get frustrated trying to find and fix the inevitable errors that creep into your tree, no matter how hard you work to keep it accurate?  I know I do!

Ancestry ® unveiled a new subscription plan this week called Ancestry Pro Tools™ that is designed to help people with problems just like these.

What is Ancestry Pro Tools?

This monthly subscription plan introduces several exciting new features that are on many genealogists’ wish lists.  I have long needed tools like this for my genealogy research, so I’ve had to purchase additional products and services, or built spreadsheets, to fill the gap.

What Are the New Features of Ancestry Pro Tools?

  • Tree Checker, to help find errors in your genealogy research.
  • Charts and Reports, to make reports for groups of people in your tree.
  • People Filters, for doing complex searches of people in your tree.
  • Map View, to find where people lived at different points in their lives.

These features will be useful for intermediate to advanced genealogists, especially those with large trees.  These tools are also easy to use and well-integrated with Ancestry’s existing features.

Who Can Purchase Ancestry Pro Tools?

This plan is an upgrade option for people who already subscribe to one of Ancestry’s existing records plans at

  • U.S. Discovery
  • World Explorer
  • All Access

Ancestry is following its typical phased rollout strategy, beginning with the website and then gradually rolling out to its international websites, such as and

There is no word yet on when this new plan will be available for purchase from the international websites. Please reply in the comments if you are able to purchase this plan from one of the international Ancestry websites.

Who is Ancestry Targeting with Ancestry Pro Tools?

Ancestry is trying to reach a new high-value customer with this plan, offering it only to those who already have a subscription to one of their existing records services.

How Much Does Ancestry Pro Tools Cost?

I paid $ 9.99 US per month as an add-on to my existing World Deluxe Membership.

There are conflicting reports circulating online about the price being between $ 9.99 and $ 19.99 US per month.

Some people also report seeing different prices for the plan on subsequent visits to the website, although all official Ancestry sources that I can find say that the cost is $ 9.99 US per month.

The reported price differences could be for a variety of reasons; from mistakes made during the rollout of the plan to market testing on Ancestry’s part.

Please let me know in the comments below what price you paid for the plan, and what version of the records plan you have.  I will update this post when I learn more.


What are the new Features of Ancestry Pro Tools?

All People Filters

This feature adds a new panel to the existing “All People” page that allows you to filter the list of people in your tree based on one or more criteria.

The easiest way to access this feature is from the Ancestry “Home” page in the “Trees” section.  Click on the link that shows the number of people in your tree that is directly underneath the “Go to tree” button.

Tree Section of Ancestry Home Page


This page lists every person in your tree.  Up until now, the only way to filter this list was based on name.  Without a way to use a filter on this page, it wasn’t particularly useful.  At least not until now!

If you subscribe to Ancestry Pro Tools you will see a new button called “More Filters…” in the upper left corner of this page.

Ancestry All People Page Showing More Filters Button

Once clicked, a new Filters panel opens on the right-hand side that shows a whole host of filtering options.

Ancestry All People Page Filters Panel

Select the roll-down arrow to show all of the filters available in each category.  For example, the “Family line” filter category includes:

Ancestry All People Filters Panel Family Line Category

Anyone who has one or more large trees will love this feature.  The ability to ask a question like, “Show me all of the people on my maternal side who lived in London, England between 1800 and 1850,” is not just an exciting new feature from Ancestry; it’s a complete game changer for people who use their family trees to do research.

This feature will reduce the need for many people to purchase third-party tools or build research logs for some research projects.

Tree Checker

This feature adds the ability to easily identify common mistakes in our family trees.  We all know that we’re supposed to check every fact for every person we add to our tree, especially when:

  • We save profiles from another tree.
  • We create profiles automatically as part of adding a new record.

One of the best parts of Ancestry is that it is easy to add profiles and update facts.  The worst part of Ancestry is that it is easy to add profiles and update facts.  We genealogists are human, after all.  Sometimes we make mistakes and occasionally we’re just lazy.  This tool will help us work through common mistakes that creep into our trees easier than ever.

Tree Checker features show up in two places.

On the Profile Page

Select the new “Check facts” option at the top of any profile page.  This button will open up a new side panel that shows you a list of possible errors for you to fix or confirm.

Ancestry Profile Page Header Showing Check Facts

On the All People Page

Tree Checker is implemented as the “Possible Errors” category on the new Filters panel of the All People page.

The easiest way to access this feature is to click on “Trees” in the top navigation bar, and then select the “Tree Checker” option from the drop-down menu.  While there are a few ways to get to the All People page and apply this filter, this path saves you several clicks by applying the “Possible errors” filters for you automatically.

Ancestry All People Filters showing Possible Errors Category

What Mistakes Does Tree Checker Find?

While I couldn’t find a complete list of the errors that Tree Checker looks for, it found the following errors in my tree.

  • <person> was born before their mother was eight.
  • A child was born after <mother> was 80 years of age.
  • A child was born after <mother> passed away.
  • A child was born before <father> was eight.
  • Children with multiple husbands in overlapping birth years.
  • The marriage date comes after the death date.
  • Possible duplicates
  • Residence listed more than a year before birth date.
  • The marriage happened after the spouse died.
  • There are no relationships for <person>
  • There is a residence event 10 years after the death date.
  • There is a residence event more than 120 years after birth.

I sampled the profiles it identified as having errors, and I am embarrassed to report that they were all valid errors.  More importantly, I am happy to report that this new tool will make it easy for me to work through the errors and fix them.

The tree I ran this test on has over 7000 profiles in it, so it’s probably got most of the errors that Tree Checker is capable of finding.  Regardless, I’d like to compile the full list of checks that Tree Checker performs, so please reply in the comments below if you find any additional errors when you run it on your tree.

Charts and Reports

This new feature is a welcome addition, and fills a long-standing hole in Ancestry’s tools,… basic ancestor and descendant reports.

If you like to work on paper, or to collaborate with other people in your family who don’t use Ancestry, the reports in this new feature are must-haves.  Each of them is useful for fact-checking, not to mention sharing and collecting genealogy information with people you are collaborating with.

  • Descendancy
  • Ahnentafel
  • Register
  • Family Group Sheet

There are two ways to access this feature.

On the Profile Page

Select the “Charts & Reports” link on any profile page to create a report for the person shown in the profile.

From the Menu Bar

Select the “Trees” menu in the top navigation bar, and then select the “Chart and Reports” menu option.

Once you get to the Charts & Reports page, you’ll see the “Choose a report” side panel open on the right and the current report open on the left.

Ancestry Charts and Reports Settings Panel

There are a few different options to choose from to build your report, as well as a “Focus person” that you need to set for the person that you want your report to apply to.

A description of each report type is available by selecting the question mark to the right of the report name.

Even if you’ve never used a reporting tool before, you’ll find this reporting page very easy to use.  Every time you change something in the report, the report is automatically updated on the left side of the page.  This makes it a breeze to try out different options and see how it changes the report.

Once you’ve got the report you want, you can either print it or download it as a PDF to send it to one of your genealogy collaborators.

Map View

This feature lets you show every major life event (such as birth, marriage, or death) on a map for every person in your tree.  This feature is amazing, and something that I’ve wanted for a very long time!

To open this feature, first select the “Trees” menu item from the top navigation bar, and then select your tree from the menu.

Then, select the “View” menu from the left panel, and then select the “Map” option from the fly out menu.

Ancestry Map View Menu Option

Similar to the All People page, this feature gives you a side filter panel, that lets you filter who you want to include on the page.  There is nothing like being able to drill down to a specific group of people, at a specific time and place to help you with your research.

Multiple filters can be used together to help you include only who you want to be on the map.

Ancestry Map Filters Showing Category Details

Once you’ve set the Map filters that you want, the map view automatically updates on the left, showing you the number of people in each region of the map that fit your filter.  For example, this map shows all of the people in my tree who were born in Hastings County, Ontario between 1850 and 1900.

Ancestry Map Filters with place date and event applied

When you click on one of the numbers shown in the map view, the Map Filters panel is replaced with the list of people associated with the number on the map.

Ancestry Map Filters with applied showing profiles

Ancestry Pro Tools Still Has a Few Rough Edges

It’s clear that the Ancestry product team worked very hard to integrate this new suite of tools into their existing website, but there are still a few rough edges that need to be worked on.

Small issues with some of the reports

Some profile facts don’t show up on some reports.

For example, the marriage date shows up correctly for my great-grandmother on the family group sheet report, but it doesn’t show up for her husband, my great-grandfather, on the same report.  Even though the facts are correct on their profiles, the report doesn’t pick his marriage date up for some reason.  This is an example of a small defect that will certainly be fixed in due course.

Ancestry Family Group Sheet Not Showing Marriage For Both Spouses

A much more difficult problem to fix is the confusing navigation to access some of the new features. This is a painfully common problem when adding new features to existing websites, particularly one as extensive as Ancestry’s.  I’m sure there are a lot of people working on these issues, or at least there will be once the questions and complaints about how to find things start rolling in.

Map View is Difficult to Find

Placing the Map View as a Tree View option is, at best, not intuitive.  I looked for twenty minutes to find this feature and eventually had to read through the blog post describing it to figure out where it was hiding.

All People Filtering is Difficult to Find

The link to the All People page from the home page is more apparent than the Map View link, but is still non-intuitive, particularly on the increasingly busy homepage.

If I had a vote, I’d add two new buttons on the Ancestry home page to the left of the “Go to Tree” button called “All People” and “Map View” that jump directly to these new pages.  I’ve mocked up what this would look like below.  I think this is a more consistent look, feel and navigation than the one Ancestry is currently using.

Ancestry Home Page Trees Section - Different Button Layout Idea

That being said, these are small bumps on the road of a major rollout like this.  I’m sure the Ancestry product managers are already working on these and a hundred other issues that none of us are aware of.


Who Are the Ancestry Pro Tools For?

These tools are Ancestry’s attempt to add revenue from their existing subscribers.

The tools in the new plan target people who want or need more advanced search, filter, analysis, and reporting tools than the current suite of tools offers.  This includes people who fall into one or more of the following groups:

  • People with large trees
  • People with many trees
  • People who regularly build “quick and dirty” trees from other people’s trees
  • Professional genealogists who need to be both fast and accurate
  • People who care a lot about the accuracy of their tree

I think that the tools in the new plan each have something great to offer, and are all worth taking a look at if you fit into one of these groups.


Who Are the Ancestry Pro Tools Not For?

Ancestry Pro Tools may not be a good fit for everyone, especially those who fall outside the typical user base of Ancestry’s record subscription plans.

Budget-Conscious or Casual Users

If someone doesn’t have enough money or interest to invest in one of the existing records plans, then Ancestry Pro Tools probably won’t appeal to them.

People who have already invested in Alternative Tools

Some people have already invested in tools or services that are more complete and feature-rich than Ancestry Pro Tools.  These people will likely pass on Ancestry Pro Tools in favor of tools that they already own.

For example, MyHeritage and FTAnalyzer both have full-featured error checkers.  Similarly, people who have family tree software installed on their computer, such as Family Tree Maker or Roots Magic, already have the reports included in Ancestry Pro Tools, plus many more, at their disposal.

My Opinion, For What it’s Worth

I think Ancestry Pro Tools will be appreciated by lots of people.  A great many people will gladly add this add-on to their existing subscription and get great value for years to come.

Another group of people will sign up for them for a month or two while they work on a tough project, or for doing some annual spring cleaning on their family tree.  Kudos to Ancestry for making this a monthly renewal product so that this group is fully supported.

I think Ancestry did a good job of positioning this product to get more value from its existing customer base without risking undue cannibalizing any of its existing products.  This will make them more profitable in the long run, and better able to build great products and withstand market challenges in the future.  As long as this approach doesn’t upset too many of their existing users who wish they could have these new tools for free, everyone wins!

I am very interested in your opinions about Ancestry’s new offering as well as your experiences using it.  Please leave your comments in the comments section.  I will do my best to respond to everyone.


Ancestry Pro Tools™ is a promising new addition to Ancestry’s tools.

With features like Tree Checker, Charts and Reports, People Filters, and Map View, it caters well to intermediate to advanced genealogists with extensive family trees.  It is easy to use and integrates well with the existing Ancestry® website.

It might not be a good purchase for everyone though.  Those who aren’t interested in one of the records subscriptions, or those who already have access to more comprehensive tools, may choose to take a pass on this plan.

Despite a few rough edges at the time of release, Ancestry Pro Tools will be a valuable set of tools for many.

For Further Reading and Watching



  1. Dana Leeds

    I’m one of those who is disappointed that these features cost extra. And my cost is showing up as $10, not $9.99. Of course these price differences are strange! (And I do think mine showed up as $9.99 on the first day, but I’m not positive.)

    Yours is the first review and images I’ve read about these new tools. I wasn’t going to purchase them because I thought the subscription add on was ridiculous. But now I think I have to do it! Yes, I can do some of these things on RootsMagic. But I rarely do!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Mark


      I’m beginning to believe that they were testing different market segments with different prices. It sounds like most people are reporting $10 now. Personally, I wonder if they’d have gotten more profit if they would’ve made it $5 per month than making it $10 per month. I have a gut feeling that they would’ve gotten way more than twice as many people sign up for half the price. Pricing, not to mention price elasticity, is such a complex topic.

      I wasn’t sure I was going to like the new tools (for the price) at first either, but they certainly grew on me while I was doing the review. It definitely took a few hours of diligent testing to grasp the implications of what they rolled out with this new plan. I can see the tell tale footprints of a framework that they can grow into as well. I assume that more filters and more reports will roll out now that they’ve got this foundation laid.

      Crista Cowan has been hinting about modernizing their website to support new capabilities for a couple of years now. It’s great to see it come to fruition.

      • Teresa

        I think you’re spot on – a $4.99/mo price point is WAY easier for people to swallow in these difficult economic times. They’d have way more uptake and if they’re charging because they need to recoup the costs of development and production, then they’ve gone about it the wrong way as I don’t think they’ll get the number of subscribers they expected. I also think some won’t pay just on principle as they’re feeling nickel and dimed already. While I could possibly see myself adding $60/year to my sub, I couldn’t justify $120 – I’m curious to see when it comes to Canada if it will be $10 Cdn or $10 USD.

        Mapping looks interesting, but give I can do the same thing myself and on a historical map image, I’m not really sold. Only the tree-checker tempts me. I already have reports and filters in Family Historian.

  2. Steve Parks

    I like all the new features, such a time saver.

    • Mark

      Yes, they sure are. I think Ancestry managed to find a reasonable sweet spot between complexity and capability. There are other tools out that have more features, and there are some that less expensive. But, they have a much steeper learning curve and take much more time to use.

  3. DIANA Nelson

    I’ve signed up. I am fortunate that cost is not a huge issue for me. I have thought for a long time that error checking should be done in real time the way it is/was done in FTM – “Is this the same John jones as ______?” when you add a new person. I have a large tree (13k) developed over 25 years. The thought of trying to fix over 900 possible errors (most of which seem to be “hidden” duplicates) is daunting. But the filtering and map has promise. My family did not move around a lot, but my half siblings’ and husband’s families did.

    • Mark

      It sounds like you are the perfect customer for this product. Big trees, a desire to fix them and not too price sensitive to pay for the upgrade. For my part, I’ve wanted these products for years. I’ve spent countless hours finding, testing, building and using other tools to get these capabilities. It’ll be nice just to have them where I wanted them to be in the first place.

  4. Linda Gentry

    I have had a subscription since before Ancestry started DNA testing. I feel I pay a lot to have the world explorer plan and I will not be increasing my cost. I know several people that’s had to unsubscribe since the last cost increase.

  5. Barbara Guinn

    Thank you great review of the new product. I purchased it next day after release. Started using error checker first my research needed a fall cleaning. I just expanded my research adding cousins lines after DNA testing. I have Legacy and FTM but my older computer does not want to work with the new internet upgrades. I am doing all my research on an android tablet. Ancestry tools was something I needed to clean up my research.

    I totality agree on the mapping I just figured it out last night. Now I need access to a bigger screen. Haven’t delt with reports yet.

    I have been researching for over 30 years spent many days at history centers.

    • Mark


      Glad to hear that you’re getting good value out of the new tools. I hadn’t considered how useful this might be to people who use a tablet, which make it harder to work in different software at the same time. Thanks very much for adding this to the mix of people who might find this valuable.

      Although, as you imply, Ancestry’s move to side panels in the past few years does take up a lot of screen real estate, and they have leaned heavily on side panels in Ancestry Pro Tools. I don’t know if your tablet supports it or not, but an add-on screen would likely be a big help.

      thanks very much for the feedback!


      • Teresa

        And this is my point – for people who don’t have a computer and thus no means to run stand-alone software, this must feel for many like a step too far. Pricing it so high is really limiting the the number of potential users. So many people are feeling the pinch and use genealogy as a welcome escape. To have to add more money to Ancestry’s pot on top of what they already spend must feel like a betrayal – has Ancestry ever done this before? Certainly not in the almost decade I’ve been a full-paying member.

        • mark

          The only new product that they’ve rolled out in recent memory was Ancestry DNA Plus, a product that fits above the free tier and below the records subscriber tier.

          I’m glad to see them adding new value tiers to their product line, as tiering is a good long-term strategy for them (and any company). As long as they don’t upset too many customers while they are shifting the chairs around, it’ll be good for them (and us) in the long run.

          • Teresa

            Ah, I don’t do DNA, so had no idea about that tier…I hate tiered systems myself…to each their own.

  6. Cheryl Medlin

    I have FTM, but plan to sign up for a month or two of the pro here to do some clean-up. I love that you can now sort by direct ancestors. Wish they would finally add that option to the all hints filters. As someone who has spent the last 18 years working in software development, I’m always disheartened when people get upset at increased fees for added functionality. It costs money to do these developments and Ancestry is still a business. Are they expensive? Absolutely. But they also offer several opportunities throughout the year to renew for a large discount. Take advantage of those and it is much more affordable. MyHeritage may have similar tools, but they don’t have the intuitive functionality of Ancestry. I’m letting my MyHeritage subscription run out.

    • mark

      Cheryl, yes I agree with you completely. There will always be a market for a more expensive product, and I’m glad that Ancestry is trying to find that customer with these new tools. Many people have already forgotten that they also rolled out DNA Memberships a few months ago to find new customers below the current subscription plan segment.

      I’m more concerned about the genealogy companies who have failed to develop new recurring revenue streams for their products. Now that the DNA kit market is becoming saturated, It’s innovative strategies like this that give me hope that Ancestry will be here in another 20 years.

      And, yes, I *really* like the filters. For people with an affinity for data analysis, this feature is truly a game changer for analyzing your own family tree. The only product on the market that I’m aware of that comes close to this today is GWorks from DNAGedCom, and it’s $5 a month for a subscription (which includes a bunch of other amazing DNA analysis tools).

      With your development background you’ve probably already built a Gedcom meets spreadsheet/database to get some filtering capability. I’ve also had reasonable success loading a GEDCOM into CHATGPT and using Data Analyzer to query the GEDCOM with complex queries. I did a blog post on this last month if you’re interested.

    • Richard

      I agree, with new development there should be a small price increase. What I disagree about is the statement regarding renewing for a large discount. I have had my subscription since 2000 and never been able to get any type of discount for renewal. The discounts are for when you upgrade or for new users. Those of us that have been in the system for as long as I have don’t qualify. Why do we have to “cancel” our subscription, just to get a new subscription at a lower rate. I have listened to persons say the AARP discount applies to current subscribers, but it is a one time discount, again, what is the point?

  7. Gary

    So basically everything that Family Tree Maker already does without paying $9.99 a month.

    • Mark

      Gary, Between FTM (for reports) and FTAnalyzer (for error checking), which is free, you can go a long way towards what is offered in Ancestry Pro Tools. The missing pieces from this mix of products would be the people filters, which would require Gworks (for $5 US a month) or a do-it-yourself GEDCOM meets spreadsheet solution.
      As to the new map filters, I can’t think of another product off the top of my head that fits in this niche, unless you happen to be a person with a background in geographic information systems.

      • Catherine

        I have All-Access, and added ProTools for $9.99 a month. I have not played with it yet, but it’s always fun to try out a new toy!

        • Mark

          Have fun playing with your new toys. That’s what Christmas time is all about! Please let me know what you think of them after using them for a while.

  8. Susan

    Thank you for your explanation/review of these new tools. I look forward to trying them but will wait till end of year when my new “gift” subscription is active.

    My cost now shows $10.00 but my account also showed $9.99 and $19.99 in the first days. My suggestion to Ancestry would be to offer a price incentive for a one year subscription in addition to the monthly auto renewal. I’ll give them $100 or so upfront for 12 months of use.

    The additional cost does not surprise me at all. When given the opportunity I always participate in Ancestry surveys and many of them dealt with enhancements and would I be willing to pay extra. I always said I would.

    • Mark

      Thanks very much for the feedback, as well as the info on what price you paid. I really appreciate it.

  9. Ken

    I think it should be a standard tool on Ancestry. If they are concerned about making extra income, just charge ALL plans one or two dollars extra.

    • Mark

      From what I can glean from a few comments I’ve seen from Ancestry staffers online, they considered this option as well. For better or worse, this is the path they chose. It’ll be interesting to see how it works out in the long run.

  10. Steven Smith

    I agree with what everyone is saying. The tools sound great, but the cost is high, especially for those who already pay top dollar for the highest plans. I wish they would consider a sliding scale for monthly costs to acknowledge and align with the different tiers. This would be a better pill to swallow.

  11. Deb Thalner

    I was so excited to purchase the protools (10 bucks), but immediately found out that it only works on trees where you are the OWNER. Unfortunately, my nephew and I share our family tree – he is the owner and I am the editor. I’m sure he will not purchase the pro tools, as he tends to focus on DNA issues, and I focus on the documented evidence portion. I’m hoping that restriction changes at some point.

  12. Stephen Caraccia


    Thank you for your review of many of the features of Pro Tools – it will be very useful for many users to inform their decision as to whether to subscribe. I subscribed the night it was first offered and received the $9.99 price.

    One feature that appears to to be only available with Pro Tools, but is not labeled as such, is Fan Settings which appears on the Tree View Frame Bar on the top right after one has selected Fan while in Tree View. I spoke to another professional genealogist who has not subscribed and she doesn’t have this feature while in Fan View. It allows the user to increase generations contained in the Fan View and adjust shading based on certain criteria. Increasing generations was the one of the most common complaints I heard about when Fan view was in beta.

    • Mark

      Thank you so much for pointing this out. I completely missed this new filter when I did my review. I will update my blog post, as I think this is truly a pro feature. I *really* like the ability to be able to filter by sources. As far as I can tell, this is the first source analysis feature that Ancestry has ever turned out. I sure hope this is a sign of Pro Tools to come!

  13. Mary Keeling

    I love that this is added, But I think with the cost of Ancestry already, it should be included in what ever of Level of Ancestry you pay for,

  14. Chris

    One error Tree Checked found in one of my trees was an event date prior to the birth date. I am not sure how these got into my facts, but they were there.

    • Mark Thompson

      I’ve heard a few reports like this. I think they’re going to end up tuning the Tree Checker algorithms a bit once they see how well they’re working with “real” data.

  15. Michele Mitchell

    My only complaint about the new products is the price. While I understand nothing is free I feel any subscription cost is more than I am willing to pay. I would prefer a flat rate cost as oppose to another subscription in addition to the other subscription costs I’m already paying to use Ancestry. Talk about nickel and diming.


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