For the first time, I downloaded some indexed records from Ancestry using the save to your computer option. These files neither have a particular helpful file name nor contain metadata.

I expected these files to have IPTC metadata or at least self-descriptive file names, to help me working with them.

If I am missing something here, can I enable downloads with metadata and/or self-descriptive file names anywhere on Ancestry.com?

  • Can you give me an example of one of the record collections you downloaded, so I can see what you're looking at? Some databases do contain a few clues to their archive references, e. g. WRYRG10_4690_4692-0637.jpg which is an image file from an 1871 Census record (England) from the West Riding of Yorkshire: RG10; Piece: 4692; Folio: 118; Page: 11
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 6:34
  • I looked at different German birth, marriage & death records. The file name often seems to be like 12345^2^^h^1916^^1-00042, where 12345 is the collection, 1916 the year and 1-00042 the running number.
    – lejonet
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


One option is to use Family Tree Maker, which syncs with Ancestry. It populates some of the metadata into your FTM database. I use and like FTM but I never use this function. Why? Because I don't like how it does citations and it chose fact categories different from what I wanted. While this doesn't download the actual document file, it does give you some metadata.

Otherwise, you need to do this manually. I've been doing this for years and it works well. I also put in every fact and citation manually. But that's me.

Part of what you can do is to cut and paste the transcribed data from Ancestry's page for it. Every Ancestry document has this data in a separate page. Then some documents also have a scan which can be downloaded. I put the full cut and paste into the citation (this is easy in FTM) or I do my own transcription if there is a scan. This carries over to every use of that citation so I only have to do it once per document.

  • When you download a scan you have to manually name the file.

  • When you download a scan, you have to separately deal with the transcribed data.

  • If you choose "download" on a multi-page document, it only downloads the page you're on.

  • Ancestry deliberately makes it difficult to download their data.

  • 1
    I copy the Ancestry details into the IPTC metadata for the image - both the index and the source information.
    – AdrianB38
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 19:39

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