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How to download images from those I have personally added to my Ancestry.com tree? I currently do not own or plan on purchasing the now discontinued FamilyTreeMaker.

As mentioned in this "What do FamilyTree Maker users do" question one way is to purchase and utilize FamilyTreeMaker to download the images using TreeSync; but Jan Murphy pointed out TreeSync may not download all media one has uploaded.

FamilyTreeMaker is being end of life'd and no longer supported at the end of 2016, so what are the alternative ways to download a GEDCOM with associated images vs. manually doing it for each image.

The existing Download your GEDCOM function does not contain images, even the ones I manually uploaded myself and did not get added via Ancestry.com and all I get is a .GED file.

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The GEDCOM itself has a file location that is a URL pointing back to Ancestry.com vs. the media file itself (this example I added to Ancestry.com and did not come from another location).

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But when you re-import it into a local program I still get prompted (MacFamilyTree) for location of the referenced media files as it does not seem to be able to automatically download them and haven't found any program that will.

Directly taking the list of URLs in the GEDCOM file and putting them into a browser does not open them, even if logged into Ancestry.com with a paid subscription. All I get is the following spinning icon for several minutes and I have tried several different browsers.

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As far as I am aware as of 01/28/2016; there are also no third-party application that supports the Ancestry.com TreeSync API or other browser plug-in that can scrape the images from your trees; which is less preferred as they would have to be manually re-associated but that is better than losing them all together.

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    Update: Family Tree Maker is only being discontinued by Ancestry.com - they've spun/sold it off to Software MacKiev who will be continuing to maintain it. There definitely was a period there where it looked like FTM was going away, but it now looks like it will be with us a while more.
    – Frizbog
    Aug 7, 2016 at 2:17

7 Answers 7

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Update 2022:

The Chrome extension is no longer available.

Original response:

In response to the comment about there being no third party app to download the Media (pictures and stories). Now there is a Chrome extension. Not an amazing one, but at least something. It uses screen scraping, so there is no guarantee how long it will work for, but it is free.

You can find it on my blog here.

Similar to neRok's answer, there is a chance this is outside the ancestry.com's terms of use. The difference between his script and this one is that this script is automating your browsing of the website, it is not a script running in the background.

Disclaimer: I am the author of the Chrome extension recommended above

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    I have edited your reference to one of the other answers to remove the word "below" and added a link to the answer. On SE answers can be sorted three different ways, and if the reader sorts by votes, the order of answers can change as answers are up- or down-voted. We can't depend on the answers staying in the same order on the page as they were when we last edited our answer.
    – Jan Murphy
    Jun 6, 2017 at 5:54
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Several years ago, Randy Seaver wrote an article on How Best to Download Ancestry.com Images to RootsMagic?

Randy said that RootsMagic has a WebSearch feature that can be used to search for your images on Ancestry.com.

When you find one you want, you click on Ancestry's "Save" to save it to your computer. Then in RootsMagic, you go to the fact of the person you want to attach the picture to, and click on the Media button for that fact to attach it. Then you can go back to the RootsMagic Websearch view for the same person and get another image.

I think this is the best that is currently available.

However, on Ancestry's blog follow-up after their announcement, they indicated that they may be making their API available to software developers. So it is possible that in the not too distant future (a year or two?), some programs will appear that will be able to directly download your data from Ancestry including images.

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There are no built-in methods to download large numbers of images from an Ancestry tree.

I made a script that 'scrapes' the relevant images from Ancestry, but note that using scripts is against the Ancestry Terms and Conditions. You can find the script here: Ancestry Image Downloader.

As you mention, you will have to 're-associate' the downloaded files with the gedcom after using this script, but the script outputs a CSV-file that will be useful in creating another script that does this to suit your desired program/gedcom-file/folder-structure/etc.

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The only way I have found to download the images or media from Ancestry.com to my computer is to right click each image and save as a picture image. First I highlight and copy the title, then right click the image and go to "save picture as" (chose your file destination) and control-V to paste the title in the File Name box and save. It will take a while but you can do it. The only thing is it does not come with the reference information.

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  1. Download and open CHROME web browser
  2. Download ANCESTRY MEDIA DOWNLOAD'extension
  3. Follow provided instructions
  4. Easy as clicking each Photos or Stories page and it'll auto-download to your computer's download folder.
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    This is the extension described in Jerome's answer (the author of the extension)
    – Harry V.
    Jun 5, 2017 at 19:01
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Why Sync Isn't Ideal

For easy reference, these are the links showing the information that is retrieved by means of a sync for Family Tree Maker and RootsMagic:

Ancestry uses the term "Citation Media" to refer to historical record images on Ancestry that are attached to Ancestry online trees.

One big disadvantage to using sync as a means of downloading citation media is that a sync will only transfer whatever media item is attached to your tree. This means that a sync will only fetch the first pages of multi-page documents such as 2-page passenger lists, court records such as probate files which have a wrapper followed by the contents, etc.

Ancestry's tree system will sometimes offer the user the opportunity to attach an image that doesn't have indexed names to a profile by means of a weblink; however, weblinks are not part of the information that is brought down via a sync.

Keeping a separate research log

The easiest and safest solution to download all the images associated with an Ancestry online tree is the tedious one: to download the images manually at the time you attach the record to someone's profile. The tool to download images is in the slide-out panel on the right-hand side of the image viewer.

Users who realize they have probably skipped downloading images could try the following strategies:

Inventory what images you already have on hand by adding them to a source-centric program made for the purpose, such as Clooz, or by making an index card for each record in Scrivener, or adding a citation or the information from the Record Page to something like OneNote or Evernote.

Review each person's profile, making an inventory of downloaded images and downloading any skipped images, recording progress in a spreadsheet, either manually or with the help of something like John Cardinal's Online Repository Assistant (ORA). ORA does not have a specific aid for downloading Ancestry Citation Media, but the status boxes that ORA adds to the Record Details page provide a way to check off the images as you download or find them on your desktop computer. The straightforward way to go about this is to make a checklist or spreadsheet using the List of All People for your tree.

Another possibility: make a Genealogy Source Checklist like the one demonstrated by Crista Cowan on Ancestry's YouTube channel for each person on your tree, and mark up the list to show which items you've already downloaded.

Whatever means you choose, leave yourself breadcrumbs in the Notes or in your log so you can keep track of what progress you've made and what you plan to do next.

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As of 2019 it is possible to download all of your Ancestry Tree with support to the current version of Roots Magic.

In 2022, the current version is Roots Magic 8, and if you login to Ancestry and download your family tree, it will copy the images which are attached to your tree.

RootsMagic's syncing with Ancestry is documented on their website.

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  • Saying that all the media files will be copied is misleading. RootsMagic will only fetch the images which are attached to your tree. If the citation media has more than one page, it will not fetch all the other images. The only way to be sure you have all of the images associated with the people in your tree is to download the following images manually.
    – Jan Murphy
    Dec 29, 2022 at 2:47
  • @calvinf This answer could be improved by adding a link to the RootsMagic website showing where the user can find out about how RootsMagic 8 works.
    – Jan Murphy
    Dec 29, 2022 at 2:49
  • @JanMurphy updated above based on comments.
    – calvinf
    Dec 30, 2022 at 18:40

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