New Look for FamilySearch Change Update Emails

FamilySearch Watch List email

On you can sign up to watch your ancestors and the changes that take place to them. This is a crucial feature for your direct line ancestors so you can keep up with the collaborative nature of FamilySearch. As part of the watch feature, you receive weekly emails about the changes to your family tree.

I really like this feature but be warned, you should really keep your watch list small. Stick to direct line ancestors or those who are currently screaming for your attention. Otherwise, you will be bombarded with changes for too many ancestors. You’re head just might explode.


Watch Feature on FamilySearch
Click on the Watch feature to start receiving notices on updates to your family members.

Because I love you enough to want your head to stay attached, you must heed the advice to keep the watch list fairly small. Just because you have 10,000 ancestors that you’re interested in doesn’t mean all of them need to be on your list.

Now that your list is a reasonable size, check your inbox for weekly updates to the FamilySearch Family Tree. These are not possible hint emails but notices that someone has worked on the family tree and made changes (including merging duplicate individuals, attaching sources, adding photos, and more). I love how FamilySearch stands on guard while you can do things like cooking, cleaning, working, or napping.

In the past, these emails were simply a text list of the people who were changed. My only critique was that the lists would tell me about the changes I’ve made.



Updates to Watch List FamilySearch
Sample weekly email of the persons I’m watching on FamilySearch

Since my 2015 post Will FamilySearch please stop telling me about my changes? I haven’t seen my changes appear in the weekly emails. Additionally, I rarely see “FamilySearch” as a person making changes to the tree. Hooray! That’s progress people. Take time to celebrate.

Did you do a happy dance?

Now, FamilySearch is constantly striving to improve their content delivery. This week, I noticed that the weekly email for people I’m watching has a new look.

New Updates to Watch List FamilySearch
New sample weekly email of the persons I’m watching on FamilySearch.
(FYI: It’s much longer than this)

My first reactions were this:

  • I like knowing how many people were changed
  • I like seeing how many changes took place
  • I like the color in my email
I thought it was interesting to see the brackets of relationships for changes. Now, this particular set of changes was upsetting as these are my direct line ancestors (Alonzo is my 2nd Great Grandfather) of whom I’ve added photos, documents, and stories to his profile and those of his children. I have to remember that FamilySearch Family Tree is open source and the merging that eliminated my ‘old ID numbers” (which upsets my sync feature with and RootsMagic) is a product of the Open Source nature of the tree. So, I did my best to Keep Calm and Start a Conversation.
So, the revised email list did catch my eyes initially. So, hooray for changes.

However, I’m not too thrilled with this visual representation of data. With 22 people having changes (and 300+ changes), the email because a cluttered visual mess. There is bracket after bracket of changes representations and they become very confusing, especially since this week numerous family members were merged and changed as several decades of duplicate individuals were found in the tree.

(Which is odd, since this wasn’t a GEDCOM upload and I had no idea they were there. Where it came from is a mystery as the source for such work was my hubby and he didn’t work on this line. Weird! But that’s a different headache for another day). 

So, although I have a reluctant acceptance to change, I’m not sure the current rendition of the Weekly Changes to Your Watch List email has my full acceptance. There is such a thing as less is more. But, I do like having the colors and the quick glimpse of how many people were changed and how many changes affected them.

What do you think of these changes? Leave a comment below.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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