GEDmatch, found at www.gedmatch.com, is a free service provided by a researcher and several volunteers which allows users to analyze their raw DNA data to find matches and family tree information. Typically, users upload their DNA file from one of the major testing companies to their GEDmatch account, and the software finds matches to other users.
However, one of the great features of the GEDmatch site is the ability to upload and analyze a GEDCOM file. GEDCOM, short for “Genetic Data Communication”, is a type of file which stores information about your family tree, typically for use in genealogy software. Using this type of data file from an ancestry software or one of the DNA testing companies allows users to look deep into the branches of their family tree.
What is GEDmatch?
GEDmatch is a site designed for amateur genealogists to research and discover information about their family tree. The site analyzes the raw DNA data you can download from other DNA testing companies, typically autosomal DNA. This raw data details the genetic variants you carry, not the connections you have with family members like a GEDCOM file.
GEDmatch is a platform that allows you to analyze both types of files for matches, which can lead you deep into your family history. As the site’s number of users grows it will basically become an automatic genealogist and family finder for any person brave enough to explore its functions.
Sites like 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), AncestryDNA, and MyHeritage all have ancestry and living relative resources, but GEDmatch provides a completely free alternative database to explore!
How does GEDmatch normally work?
The most basic way to use GEDmatch is to create an account and start uploading DNA data files. The platform will give you a kit number for the DNA kit you uploaded. This number links to your name and email address and can be searched for by other users.
Once uploaded, you can use the tools on the platform to compare your DNA kit directly to others. Basic tools include the ability to view a chromosome browser, see DNA segments shared between two kits, and view living people who you share DNA with. However, you can also do some very cool things with GEDCOM files.
What You Can Do with a GEDCOM file
One of the best features of GEDmatch is the ability to use your DNA kit to find family trees you are related to. This feature, called “GEDCOM+DNA Matches,” scans through your autosomal DNA matches to find people with complete GEDCOM files. If the person is very closely related to you, you will essentially be able to recreate your entire family tree. If they are distantly related, you may still be able to find where your family tree weaves with theirs.
This tool is great for adoptees, and family members trying to find lost relatives or identify distant branches of their tree. However, the site also gives you the option of comparing your GEDCOM file with other GEDCOM files. This tool essentially cross-references two family trees to find where they intersect. The ‘test results’ from this analysis show you where two families intersect, reminding us that we are related to everyone. It is also great for two people looking for their common ancestors.
How to Get a GEDCOM file
GEDCOM files are typically created by family tree genealogy software. Sites like Ancestry.com will allow you to download a GEDCOM file directly to your desktop. Simply open the software from the company to view your family tree. You should be able to find an ‘export’ option, which will save your information as a GEDCOM file. These files have the extension “.GED”, and they can be uploaded into GEDmatch once you have created an account and have received a GEDmatch kit number.
Be A Genetic Expert!
Using both of these tools and file types together can be a powerful tool for researching your genetic genealogy. A DNA test alone can only provide so much information. DNA results at best only show information from one database. Using GEDmatch, you can connect to an entirely new database which includes people from all of the major DNA testing companies. If you want to learn more about GEDmatch and how to use it, check out this blog post on how to use GEDmatch.