GEDCOM (family tree) FILES

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When you ADD, IMPORT or UPLOAD a family tree (GEDCOM) file in webtrees the data from the file is all transferred to the database tables. The file itself is no longer used or required by webtrees.

  • If you use ADD or IMPORT, your file remains in the webtrees/data folder you first copied it to, and will not be changed by any subsequent editing of the webtrees data.
  • If you use UPLOAD, the file is left in its original location, and again remains untouched.

When or if you change your genealogy data outside of webtrees, it is not necessary to delete your GEDCOM file or database from webtrees and start over. Follow these steps to update a GEDCOM that has already been imported:

  1. Decide if you want to IMPORT or UPLOAD your new family tree (GEDCOM) file.
    • Use UPLOAD if your family tree file is smaller than your server's PHP file upload limit (sometimes as low as 2MB).The new file can have any name you choose.
    • Use IMPORT for larger files. In this case you need to use FTP to first copy your file to the webtrees/data folder. Either copy over the existing file, or use a different name.
  2. From the Administration page, go to your webtrees Family trees (GEDCOM) configuration page by selecting "Family trees". Then, on the line relating to this particular family tree (GEDCOM) file (or a new one) click either IMPORT or UPLOAD.
  3. Take careful note of the media items option ("If you have created media objects in webtrees, and have edited your gedcom off-line using a program that deletes media objects, then tick this box to merge the current media objects with the new GEDCOM.") In most cases you should leave this box UNCHECKED.
  4. Click "SAVE". webtrees will validate the GEDCOM again before importing. During this process, webtrees copies your entire family tree (GEDCOM file) to a 'chunk' table within your database. Depending on the coding of your file, its file size and the capabilities of your server and the supporting software, this may take some time. No progress bar will show while the data is being copied and should you navigate away from this page, the process is suspended. It will start again when you return to the Family Tree management page.


Every Family History program has its own method of creating GEDCOM files, and differing output format options to select from. webtrees import routines can read many different formats, but not necessarily all. If your software has a "UTF8" option you should always use that. However, webtrees has been tested with these alternative formats:

  • ANSI - imports OK, but is slow due to the translation into UTF8 as part of the import process.
  • MAC - imports OK, but is slow due to the translation into UTF8 as part of the import process.
  • DOS - imports OK, but is slow due to the translation into UTF8 as part of the import process.
  • ANSEL - currently will not import. Gives warning Error: cannot convert GEDCOM file from ANSEL encoding to UTF-8 encoding. Later releases of webtrees may include translation from ANSEL to UTF8, but this is not a simple process.
ReadMe Pages
System requirements
GEDCOM (family tree) FILES
Converting from PhpGedView
This page has not been reviewed since webtrees 1.5.2. It may be out of date.