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Collaborating with other Geni users

As you’ll discover, an awful lot of people out there are researching or are willing to help contribute. It would be a shame for you not to take advantage of the work they have to offer or have already done. One of the best ways to facilitate receiving info is by sharing it first.

Also, people usually have more accurate information for the people that are closer to them on the family tree. Therefore, to take advantage of the collaboration aspect we recommend inviting everyone within your family to join Geni first and then start inputting the data together. We make this very easy for you through the Geni address book import tool, which enables you to import the email addresses (only those you choose) directly from your Yahoo, Hotmail, Google, or AOL address book.

You can collaborate with others who have already joined your family tree through the tree discussion or by sending them inbox messages. Use the "search outside your tree" feature to find users outside of your tree who may be searching for common ancestors. To start:

  1. Add the information you know: including dates and siblings
  2. Search for potential matches, connected first then not connected
  3. Send messages to profile managers of potential matches
  4. Invite to Family Group
  5. Navigate to most recent shared ancestor and merge the nodes

You may also wish to check out our new Pro Collaborators feature.


A cycle occurs when the same person appears more than once in your tree (for example, when two sisters marry two brothers).

Cycles cannot be created for 2 claimed nodes or nodes that cannot be edited. Use the ‘move this person' link (found in the “more” link of the standard view or on the flipped node) to add the node to the Tree tray. Then drag the node onto the second person to whom he or she is related and select the appropriate relationship.

PLEASE NOTE: This action cannot be undone, and can often result in the inability to delete that profile, as it will be attached to several others. Make the cycle you are creating is accurate before setting the relationship.

Find other Geni users searching for the same surname:

See the list of surnames

How people are using the Family Friend feature:

If you have a more serious genealogist in the family, they may choose to participate minimally in the main family tree as well as retain control over their own version of the tree by creating the second tree but not inviting anyone else. They can have their "own" tree but link through the same e-mail address to stay in touch with key family members by asking to be added as a family friend through those members. (This is one way one of our tree members uses the feature.)

How Do I Change Someone's Parents in the Tree?

You can change someone's parents by clicking 'edit info' on their node, selecting the 'Relationships' tab, then using the 'Parents' drop down menu.


Here is a workaround that will accomodate the situation where one of the parents has not yet been added to Geni. This workaround is not necessary if the parent does not have any other partners entered.

Add to the existing parent the ex-spouse or ex-partner using a temporary name (e.g,. using question mark (?) as first-name). Then following the step from above, change the parents to be the existing parent and the newly-added temporary parent. Then using Tree view, delete the temporary parent. Geni will then list "unknown" for the other parent.

I added a grandchild as a child, how do I insert the parent generation in-between?

  1. Go to one of the grandparent’s nodes and click the bottom yellow arrow to add the correct child
  2. Go to the incorrectly listed child who should be listed as the grandchild and click the ‘more’ then ‘move this person' link
  3. Go to the 'Move these People' tray on the side of the Tree view and drag the floater that you just created for the grandchild and drop it onto the correct parent you just added to the Tree (Select the appropriate relationship)

I put my sibling as my parent and now my parents are listed as grandparents, how do I take out the extra generation?

  1. Navigate to your node and click ‘more’ then click ‘move this person' (This will create a floater node in the Move these People tray on the side of the Tree view)
  2. Drag and drop the floater node onto one of the correct parents and select the appropriate relationship

I added my sibling as my spouse, how do I correct this?

  1. Navigate to the incorrectly listed sibling who is not listed under the correct set of parents
  2. Click ‘more’ then ‘move this person' (This will create a floater node in the Move these People Tray on the side of the Tree view)
  3. Drag and Drop that floater node onto one of the correct parents and select the appropriate relationship
  4. Go to the node you just dropped and click ‘edit’
  5. Click the ‘Relationships’ tab
  6. Click 'remove' next to the incorrect spousal relationship

I added my spouse as my sibling, how do I correct this?

  1. Navigate to the spouse that is listed with the incorrect set of parents
  2. Click ‘more’ then click ‘move this person' (This will create a floater node in the Move these People Tray on the side of the Tree view)
  3. Drag and Drop that floater node onto the correct spouse and select the appropriate relationship.
  4. Go to the node you just dropped and click ‘edit’
  5. Click the ‘Relationships’ tab
  6. Click remove next to the incorrect sibling relationship

I would like to demonstrate an Adoption, is this possible?

We currently do not have a way to demonstrate this on the site. Therefore, you may choose to work on separate Trees until the option becomes available. Otherwise, you may choose to create a secondary node on the same Tree to include the other set of parents. You may then merge the duplicate nodes and leave them pending. This will then display the person twice on the Tree-but it will also reflect both parent unions. A detailed explanation on how to do this, can be found here: Adoption.

Video Tutorials

Long URLs

I have very long hyperlink that ends up getting broken at the '-' character in the About Me box. Also I believe it does this in the Comments area. I do like that you have made http:// come out as hyperlinks automatically, but when linking to a map like this, it will just end up confusing someone that comes across it and clicks on it. Also, a secondary annoyance about this is that these long hyperlinks don't word wrap inside the about me box, and "bleeds" through to the right hand margin and generally looks kind of bad.

long URLs like this can be problematic. You may want to try something like

How do I change my password?

We will ask you to create a permanent password the first time you login. After that, you can change your password at any time on the Settings page.

Inviting People

You can invite people in your tree by adding their e-mail address either to their node on your family tree, to their profile page, or their edit profile page. Users who are under 13 years of age, marked as deceased, or who have been marked as having no e-mail cannot be invited until these issues are resolved. There will not be an invite option available for a profile that is already claimed.

note: You can customize the Invitation through the Invitation Template by clicking the 'Invite' link in the upper right hand corner of any page within Geni and then clicking 'Invitation Template'. Creating a custom invitation will help with the following issues: 1. they will know the invitation it isn't random spam when it comes in 2. you can warn them not to visit the site without the login information (This prevents them from putting their e-mail into a "new tree" which could block them from being added to the existing tree with that address.) 3. if the person is sensitive about privacy issues, you can let them know about the options to hide/show information and adjust their own settings 4. they will know that a real person whom they know is already involved and will be more likely to get involved themselves 5. they can ask you to not include information on their profile or indicate that they are not interested in joining so that you can make a note of that in their profile and change their settings so others won't upset them with repeated invitations.

To invite someone while in "tree view": Look at the individual's node in the tree. If they don't have a node, add it in the appropriate place. If the nodes are "flipping", you will need to stop them. You can go to the bottom of the page and select "preferences" from the tabs and make sure the box next to "flip nodes" is unchecked (empty). There should be a white box that says "enter email". If you don't see a white box, try moving the slider on the left hand side of the page up to enlarge the nodes. If that doesn't work, go to the "preferences" tab and make sure the box next to "show email prompt" is checked. Click on the box to enter the address. It should change to include a cancel button, a check box marked "invite", and a save button. Type or copy/paste their e-mail address into the box on thier node. The box next to "invite" should have a check mark in it before you click on "save". The invitation is sent as soon as you click on "save". From tree view, you can also click on the "edit info" link on a person's node which opens up a small window with minimal information on it. You can type or copy/paste an e-mail address in the line there. Activating the field by typing or pasting into it will cause a check box that says "invite to join my family tree" to appear (should be already checked). When you click on the "save" button at the bottom of the window, an invitation will be sent.

To invite someone new from their profile page: You can get to a person's profile page if they are already listed in your tree by clicking on their name anywhere it appears. If they are not the only person who has that name in your tree, make sure you have the correct listing. If the person is eligible or available to have an e-mail added, there should be a gray box beside their picture field on thier profile. You can type or copy/paste their e-mail address into the "enter (his/her)email" field or add them from your Yahoo, hotmail, Gmail, or AOL address book if you have one by using the link and following the instructions on the pop-up window. Click on "Invite" after the address is entered. If someone has indicated that the person is deceased or doesn't have e-mail, The gray box will not appear on their profile page. You can still invite them by changing that information. Click on the "edit profile" button and remove the check mark from the "this person does not have email" box or changing the indicator from "Deceased" to "Living" on the editing page. You can then proceed with entering the email and inviting from the edit page or go back to the profile page and proceed.

How do I print the entire tree

I find that it's easier, and much more appropriate, to print a custom version for each person using them as the tree root. I chose a few key people from each path and made them the root of the tree by 'View Tree' on their profile. I printed from there. Do this a few times and you end up with very personalized printouts. It works best because most people think of their relatives from their perspective, using themselves as the root.If you are printing it off for a specific section of the family (i.e. your own chilren or a family reuntion), you may want to consider that section to figure more prominently in your selection.

Go to "tree view". If you do wish to print largest possible portion of the tree, you can do so by choosing the youngest member who is related to the largest portion of the tree without going through in-laws. (Inlaws who show up on the tree only through the green trees with numbers on them will not print on a person's tree.) The number of people included in the printable tree vs the total number of people connected to the tree is shown at the top of the page so you might want to try a couple of different people.

Click on "view tree" on thier node.

You have several options under the "preferences" tab, so you will need to decide if you really want all of the available nodes printed to the tree. The slider will determine how many generations are included. If you want all of them, move the slider to the far right until it says "all". You can decide what other items you want shown on this page also by making sure there are checks in the appropriate boxes and choosing the tree layout you prefer. Obviously the printout will not include "flipping modes". If you want to save on ink, you may want to uncheck "show photos" and/or mark "neutral backgrounds".

In the bottom right hand corner of the tree view page, there are three white boxes. The one furthest to the right is a print button. Once all of your preferences are set, you can click on the print button.

On the print window that appears, you will again have some choices about your print preferences: size of text, show pictures (or not), show page numbers (recommended for extremely large trees to aid in assembly), print in black and white.

In the top right hand corner is also an indicator of how many peices of paper this tree will require in order to be printed out. Changing the size of the text or clicking on the box in the lower left hand corner that says "1" can change the number of pages but will reduce the chances of being able to read the information on the nodes of the printed version.

In order to print the remaining branches of the tree that could not be captured on the first screen, you may repeat this process using a tree member from the excluded branches and printing off that tree separately.

Note: If your Tree contains international characters and those characters and letters appear in the Tree but not in Print then you may simply select 'Landscape' instead of 'Portrait' from your Print Settings.

Returning to your tree

If you are browsing any of the Geni universe pages (forums, wiki, press, blog), you can easily get back to your family tree by clicking the Geni logo in the top right.


If you right-click on the tree page after logging in you can see the current tree build number, such as 'Geni 0.9.09 803d'.

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