Free Resource Friday: GEDMatch for DNA Matches

Have you or anyone you know already taken a DNA test through any of the major DNA testing sites such as Ancestry,  23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA or more?

If you have already taken the test and are still looking for more DNA matches, GEDMatch is one of the best free tools out there to help you find family members who have chosen to conduct their DNA test through a service other than the one you chose.  If you haven’t taken a test, consider reading this article to help you find out which DNA test is for you.   Typically, if you’ve tested with Ancestry, Ancestry’s platform will show only the DNA matches from those who also tested through Ancestry.

By downloading your raw DNA file and uploading to GEDMatch, you can find thousands of other cousins who have tested on various other platforms.  GEDMatch is a very simple site from an aesthetic-standpoint as it’s mostly text-based but it isn’t the most user-friendly.  There are a lot of scientific tools on here that are far beyond my IQ comprehension level but here are a few 101 tips I can share to start:

  1.  First, locate where to download your raw file.  Below are directions on how to download on the top three sites.  GEDMatch also offers DNA raw data uploads from other sites, so just be sure to check with your testing platform on how to obtain your file:

2.  Once you have saved your file, sign up for an account on GEDMatch.com (be sure make your account password is strong!) and look to the upper right hand side for these upload options once you’re logged in:

3. Make sure to allow it to fully upload before you click anywhere – give it at least a few minutes and wait until it says it’s complete!  Once it has completed,  it’ll take about 24-48 hours for them to process your file.  It will give you a Kit #.  WRITE THIS KIT # DOWN!  This kit # is important and can be used to give to anyone who would like to check to see if they’re DNA matches with you (anyone who also has a GEDMatch kit #).

4.  What I would personally do is DELETE the raw DNA file from your computer.  This file is essentially your complex and sensitive DNA information in one little folder. I would delete it and empty your trash (if you ever need it again, you can download it again but I wouldn’t keep it stored).

5.  After about 24 hours, you can login and head to the “Analyze Your Data” section and click on your “One-to-Many” matches.

There you will see a list of DNA matches, along with their names (or aliases), email addresses and more.  One tip, if you see someone who matches with you, make sure to press the clickable A button to run a one-to-one match to see if the number of cM’s shared is correct as sometimes the numbers aren’t quite accurate.

Now GEDMatch isn’t as fancy as the other sites.  It’s a bit manual and the more number of of centimorgans you share with someone, the more closely you’re related.  The total cM’s are just how many centimorgans you share in your DNA.  The “Gen” feature shows you how many generations apart it suspects you are.  If it says 4.5, that usually means between 4th and 5th cousins.  Here is a great article that shares more information.  I do find it a bit fascinating and have a lot to learn about the DNA aspect of genealogy.

This doesn’t even dive into the complexities of DNA or GEDMatch but rather skims the surface.  As you play around with the tool, you’ll start to learn a bit more.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below as I’m happy to help!  Happy DNA matching!

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