Exploring the Hidden Features of Ancestry’s New Image Viewer

Ancestry has changed its image viewer. If you’ve a long-time Ancestry user, you might be wondering where some features went. If you’re a new Ancestry user, you might thing the image viewer is a bit lacking. It turns out that some of the most powerful features of the image viewer are hiding behind a simple icon.

If I’m looking at an image like this one for George Nevins, it isn’t immediately obvious what I’m looking at:

Ancestry's Image Viewer

I can see that it’s from the Kansas State Census Collection, 1855-1925, but which year? What county?

Ancestry Image Viewer menu iconThat information (and more besides) is hidden behind one of the icons on the right-hand side of the page. Look below the green “SAVE” button and you’ll see several icons, including one that has a straight vertical line with an arrow pointing left.

When you click that icon, you’ll get an expanded menu with more information and more options. On that expanded menu, you’ll get three tabs:

  • Detail
  • Related
  • Source
Expanded menu on Ancestry Image Viewer
Expanded menu on Ancestry’s Image Viewer

The Detail tab gives the information that was indexed for that record. (Now we can see that this image is from the 1885 Kansas State Census for Scott, Linn County.)

The Related tab has links to other records that Ancestry thinks pertains to that person.

The Source tab includes a source citation, information about where this image came from, and the ability to browse other years and locations in this collection. (The options for browsing vary by collection.)

Ancestry Image Viewer Source tab
Source tab on the expanded menu. The drop-down menus allow you to go quickly to other sections of the collection.


You can see this in action in the video below:

Do you have other questions about the image viewer or have ideas for other videos or blog posts you’d like to see? Leave a comment!

Posted: September 22, 2015.

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  • Awesome! I guess Ancestry is going to drag me kicking and screaming into the new format after all! LOL Thanks for posting this!

    • You’re welcome, Cindy! You really should work on getting used to the latest version of Ancestry. The other (older) version will be going away; you won’t always be able to switch back to the old one.

    • Printing can be tough, as the original documents (like census records) are often much bigger than a standard letter-size piece of paper. Trying to squish all of that onto one page usually makes for an illegible print. When I want to print something, I’ll usually download the image to my computer, then crop it and print just the part that I want.

    • If you click on the icon just under the one discussed above there is a print function. It gives you nice prints of documents, better than the old Ancestry did, or at least for me it is better

  • I can’t see the option for offering corrections. Yesterday, I was looking at an 1880 census record and at the top was a bar saying it was an 1870 census. How can I let Ancestry know of this error?

    • Since this isn’t specific to one person’s record, I would click on the icon that looks like crossed wrenches. (Just below the “expand menu” icon.) Then click on “Report Problems.” You’ll get a new page that asks what the problem is. Select “Problem with an Image” and fill out the form.

      • I was just about to respond 🙂

        For anyone else wondering how to do it, look at the bottom of the page where you would navigate from image to image. There’s an icon that looks like two heads. Click that and you’ll get the index records for that image. Click on the thing you want to change and fill out the form.

        • I haven’t been able to make corrections on any index within the image. I keep having to go back to the transcribed record to do it. Is it only available in certain collections? Or certain browsers? I just thought it was part of the whole annoying “let’s add more clicks” philosophy of Ancestry’s programmers.

          • It should be available on the indexed record collections (such as census and military). I don’t believe it is available on the collections that have been OCR-ed, such as the city directories. However, even of the collections like the census, some fields are not editable.

          • I was able to make the corrections when I went back a page and used the tools in the left column. Couldn’t even make basic ‘alternate name’ submissions on the index on those same records. I can’t remember which collections offhand but at least one was a census. Why would the ability be available on the record page but not on the index on the image?

  • Thank you for this useful video. A little clarification: When we are looking at the information on the RELATED tab we are seeing a listing of records that is generated by the activity of other users. It’s the SUGGESTED RECORDS that we also see displayed alongside of the record summary page. The Suggested Records are generated by the activity of others, not by Ancestry. The leaf hints are generated by Ancestry.

    • I could say that Ancestry thinks those other records are for that person based on the activities of other Ancestry users, but your point is well taken 🙂 Yes, Hints are generated based upon your search criteria against the top 10% of collections; suggested records are based on what records people have attached to their trees.

  • That was very good, had been tring that out today. Working now on attaching media and having a glitch with PDFs. Also having trouble getting back to my profile page from a doc. Hope you do a lot more of these!

  • Why on earth would facilities previously available now be made less obvious, or ‘hidden’? Not an improvement. There is nothing wrong with the existing viewer. Change for change’s sake never improves anything! I haven’t used the ‘new’ Ancestry yet, but hope it actually is better, or at least similar. A well-known competitor changed their site last year and the shambles of a result was unusable! I unsubscribed. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it! Needless changes just mean frustration and wasted time for paying users.

    • They aren’t listening! The old site works just fine, but they think the “hidden” features and extra scrolling and clicking are an improvement! They need more arthritic testers to give opinions, not more young people who worked on the darned thing! I hate the new version; it isn’t giving me as much in results, and it keeps forcing itself on me.

      • There are some behind-the-scenes tech reasons for some of the changes to the site. Old code doesn’t work forever. 🙁

  • Yes, thank you so much. I’m usually one that embraces news things on a website, but there are a few things on the new interface that I don’t prefer over the old one. Has anyone else noticed that when you are saving a person from someone elses tree, and the name hint from your tree doesn’t show the dates next to the person. When you have several people with the same name, which is quite often, you don’t know which one to save it too.

  • Where are the options for changing the year of the census. There used to be drop down menus for the state, county and year at the top left corner.

    • If you’re in a collection that has several years of the census (like the Kansas State Census Collection in this post), it’s in that extended menu on the “Source” tab. If you’re in a collection that has just one year (like the 1920 US census), you can’t change the year.

        • This is just a guess, but I suspect that it’s because in those cases you’re actually switching collections, rather than jumping to a different set of images within the same collection.

  • I am still kicking and screaming too. I am diligently working trying to get finished before the “other shoe drops”. I have tried to convert myself to the new format. It took me two years to learn the old one, it’s not worth my time to relearn it again. So sad that paying customers don’t have a choice.

    • Take it one function at a time, Judy. Like with the image viewer or the new person view. Don’t let it overwhelm you. (Sometimes easier said than done, I know!)

  • What happened to the feature that showed other trees the record was used in? I found this helpful in deciding whether or not to assign a record to family member in my tree.