Frequently Asked Questions

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I just get a blank page or "error 500"
A fatal error has occured, and your webserver is configured not to show errors on the screen. Your webserver (not webtrees) will have written a helpful error message to its error log. Find the error log on the server, and if you don't understand what it means, post it on the forum.

Importing data from PhpGedView

Letters with accents have become corrupted, so é becomes é, è becomes è, and so on.
See the forum post for a known bug in PhpGedView. You should fix the data in PhpGedView using the add-on then re-import.
After importing, I cannot login with my admin account
The import process replaces all data with that in PhpGedView - including the user accounts. After importing, you will need to login with your PhpGedView username/password.
Embedded HTML no longer appears processed before display
In PhpGedView, embedded HTML code had the tag delimiters '<' and '>' encoded as &lt; and &gt; respectively, before being stored in the database tables. webtrees keeps the tag delimiters as is. Until the conversion tool accounts for this change, either (a) use webtrees to edit embedded HTML to restore the encoded tag delimiters or (b) go into the underlying database and replace the encoded tag delimiter with the original character. The latter technique can avoid changing date stamps in items like news articles and be accomplished globally using a tool like phpMyAdmin.
How to run the transfer wizard again
The transfer wizard should only need to be run once, and therefore once it is completed, the link to it no longer appears. But if something goes wrong and you do need to re-run it, then it is possible. The link is only shown when you have no family trees and only one user in webtrees. This is to prevent you accidently overwriting your data. So, delete your trees and users (apart from your own admin user account), and the option will reappear.


After importing my family tree I see no space between the last name and surname.
There is no space because your gedcom file does not contain a space. Some names (typically East Asian names) do not have spaces between given name and surname, so it would be wrong for webtrees to automatically add them. But there are lots of desktop applications that omit the space. So webtrees has a built-in utility to insert them. Administration -> Batch Update -> Fix name slashes and spaces, and follow the instructions.


Is the GEDCOM Check module from PGV available in webtrees?
No. Instead the administration page has a ‘check for errors’ option. This will search for problems with the structure of your data, such as broken links and missing records.

How can I show the GEDCOM IDs (XREFs) in webtrees?

A (very) few applications, such as PhpGedView, show the XREF in brackets after the name. webtrees does not do this. This is a deliberate design decision, and common to most family history software products.

  • XREFs are 20 character fields. We would need to design every page with enough space for "(I1234567890123456789)" after the name. This places unnecessary restrictions on the page layout.
  • XREFs are not unique. If you have 3 family trees on your site, you will have 3 "I1" records.
  • XREFs are written in latin characters, and many languages do not use the latin alphabet. It also causes layout problems with right-to-left languages.
  • XREfs contain easily confused characters, S/5, O/0, I/1, etc.
  • XREFs change when records or trees are merged.
  • We plan to move away from GEDCOM for internal data storage, and therefore need to break the link with GEDCOM identifiers.

There are still a few admin/edit screens where XREFs are used. These need to be updated. Until then, you can read the XREF from the URL of the individual's page.

Special characters in directory and files names

This article relates to this forum discussion: and this bug report:

The issue has been described by:

If I add a new multimedia file name in an existing folder "Agostinho Teixeira Estrêla",
webtrees creates another folder "Agostinho Teixeira Estrêla" (the special character its wrong) but inserts the multimedia file in the correct folder.
and by:
If the directory or file name has accents or characters like (àéèùçâïâ ... as in french) the media reports "file name found"
however the thumbnail is displayed, MediaViewer displays also the file.

After careful investigation It seems to be a problem with Windows versions of PHP.

According to this bug report, it cannot be fixed in PHP5, but it will be fixed in PHP6:

When we write a filename on windows, we must assume it is ISO-8859-XXX. When we read a filename on windows, I think that PHP attempts to convert it to ISO-8859-1 (?), but we cannot know if it tried or if it succeeded. Some workarounds appear to be available, but they will only work for the small subset of UTF* characters that also exist in ISO-8859-1.

Unfortunately therefore we are not able to fix this from within webtrees. If you want to use non-ascii filenames, then use Linux or MacOS.

Forum Profile and Signature

Completing the information on your forum profile, including your signature, is a very important part of participating on our forums. The webtrees support team can use this information to compare your configuration to experience from previous support questions and they can visit your website to review the issues in person. Even if your site is "locked down" and unavailable to casual viewers (requires log in), we can discern important characteristics from accessing your webpage. Please, do not consider our request for this information as irrelevant. It is, in fact, an important part of our ability to service your questions. You may find further detailed explanations of all the forum options on the HELP tab on our webtrees help forum page.

How to set up or revise your forum signature

From the webtrees forum, simply click the PROFILE tab or your user name, wherever displayed. You will see a blue bar with the phrase "Profile for YOUR-USER-NAME" left aligned and a red "EDIT button" right aligned.

Forum profile-main.jpg

Click on EDIT and you will see the multi-tabbed screen below.

Provide your User Information on the first tab.
Your user name field is probably already complete from your registration, as is your real name and e-mail address. Check your global settings.
Provide your User Profile Information via the second tab. This includes a forum signature.

Forum profile-info.jpg

Much of this information is not required, but is nice to have. You may enter your personal text, birthdate (or portion thereof), location, gender, your webtrees website URL (domain name and subsequent directories only), and any of the other social media links you may want to display. The most important field on this tab is Signature. Please enter your preferred called name and information on your system hardware and software, including versions, as well as your current webtrees version. The name of your host (ISP) is not particularly useful and if you do enter it, please do not do so with an HTML link as that would be considered free advertising for your host and is counter to our forum policies. You should, however, enter your full public URL for your webtrees website here, whether public or not, as it provides us with an quick reference to view your live web page. Even if you run webtrees only on a local network and can not supply a URL, at the least please add your software types and versions. Be sure to click SAVE.

Forum profile-signature.jpg

Select an avatar or provide your own via upload on the third tab.
If you upload your own image, you can upload an image up to 250 x 250 pixels and 50 kilobytes. The forum will automatically scale the image for use in various locations. We recommend a square size, as this is the format displayed in most places. A non-square image may be distorted to fit.
Set your preferred forum settings via the fourth tab.

Email settings

There are three places in webtrees where an administrator should set emails in order for webmail system to properly work. At SITE level, at FAMILY TREE level, and at ADMIN USER account level.

  • Administration -> Site configuration -> tab "Mail configuration"

Please click on question marks icons, this will open a window which contains help text on "how to fill in each field", and change the default "webtrees noreply" for YOUR (or your domain name) VALID email address.

  • Administration -> Family trees -> Your family tree -> tab "General" -> section "Contact Information"

Again change the default "webtrees noreply" by YOUR VALID email address

  • Administration -> Users -> your user account -> email field AND set your "Preferred contact method".

This is an example for PHP mail service: Mail config.png


Mail config3.png

This page has not been reviewed since webtrees 1.5.1. It may be out of date.
TODO: The layout of the email settings has changed, and new screen-shots are required