How to Filter and Sort Ancestry DNA Matches: Tips and Tricks

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Did you do your DNA test with Ancestry DNA? You made an excellent choice! Ancestry DNA will get you a very long DNA match list, which is an incredible source of information for those who are interested in learning more about their family’s roots. In this post, I will teach you how to filter and sort your Ancestry DNA match list for best results.

By filtering, sorting, and searching your Ancestry DNA matches in different ways, you never know what you’ll find!

Options to sort your Ancestry DNA matches

In order to filter and sort your Ancestry DNA matches, you will need to be on your main DNA match page. At the top of your list, towards the left, you will see a button that says, “All matches”. Below the image, I will describe each of the available options.

How to Sort Ancestry DNA matches

If you click “All matches”, you’ll get a drop down menu that shows several options for sorting:

  • Create a custom group Choose this option to create a custom group for your DNA matches. Once you create the group, you can then assign individual matches to the group directly from your DNA match list
  • Starred matches If you have “starred” any DNA matches, you can choose this option to only display those matches
  • Any of the custom groups you have already created (noted by the colored dot next to the name of the group that you designated). You can see custom groups I have created: “Hassa/Pavlik”, “MacDonald/Taylor”, and “Piatkowski”.
  • All matches If you want to remove any of the sorting choices, choose this option to display all of your DNA matches. It’s also cool to see the total number of DNA matches that you have on Ancestry, too!
  • Close matches If you’d like to only display your 4th cousins or closer, select this sorting option.
  • Distant matches If you are wanting to check through your distant matches, select this sorting option.
  • New matches If you are like me and check through your DNA matches all the time, choose this option to select people who are brand-new to your list.
  • Hidden matches If you have ever chosen to “hide” a DNA match, you can display your hidden DNA matches by selecting this option.
  • Shared matches with mother If your mother has done a DNA test, you can choose this option to display only people who are on your maternal side
  • Shared matches with father If your father has done a DNA test on Ancestry, you can select to display only paternal DNA matches by selecting this option.

Options to filter your Ancestry DNA matches

You can access options to filter your Ancestry DNA matches at the top of your match list next to the sorting options. This is intuitive, as the button is labeled “Add a filter”.

In the image below, you can see where to click and the available options. I’ll describe more detail about each option below the image.

How to filter Ancestry DNA matches

Once you click “Add a filter”, a drop-down menu will appear where you will have the option to apply the following filters to your sorted/unsorted DNA match list:

  • Common ancestors If you have a family tree attached to your DNA results, there is a possibility that Ancestry DNA has identified common ancestors that you might share with your DNA matches. This feature is also called ThruLines. Choosing this filter option will only display those matches that have a possible ancestor identified through this feature (I love this, by the way!)
  • Matches you haven’t viewed Do you want to view only the matches that you haven’t seen yet, in order of closest to most distant? If so, this is the sorting option you’ll need. I use this filter daily.
  • Messaged If you are the type of person who tries to contact most of your DNA matches, you might want to only view DNA matches that you have already messaged.
  • Notes Choose this option if you need to view only DNA matches that have notes (your notes – visible to no one else) attached
  • Private linked trees There are many reasons that people choose to make their family tree private, and if you would like to view only DNA matches that have private trees linked to their DNA results, this is the filter you’ll need.
  • Public linked trees My favorite DNA matches are those with public linked trees. This filter will only display those matches who have public trees attached to their DNA results.
  • Unlinked trees If you have exhausted your research of your DNA matches with public linked trees, you might want to start looking through DNA matches who have a family tree that is not linked to their results. Sometimes, people who take DNA tests don’t realize that they can link their tree, or they don’t want to for various reasons. You can still learn a lot from these trees.
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How to search your Ancestry DNA matches

Are you looking for a particular person on your DNA match list? If so, you can search your list by surname (or similar surname), or place of birth.

  • The surname search feature checks through the linked family trees of your DNA matches for the desired surname.
  • Similarly the place of birth search feature examines the places of birth of the ancestors in your DNA matches linked family trees.

The DNA match search feature can be accessed directly from your DNA match list at the very top of the list. It’s above the sort and filter options, as shown in the image below:

How to search Ancestry DNA matches

To get the most from your Ancestry DNA match list, a subscription is recommended

While there is a lot that you can learn from you Ancestry DNA match list without a subscription, there is important information that you won’t be able to view without singing up for a subscription.

I recommend an Ancestry subscription to everyone who is actively researching or building their family tree, and to those who have just received their DNA results and want to examine their DNA matches closely.

If you use the following link, you will be able to have a two-week free trial on Ancestry, which is great for adding records to your family tree (you don’t need a subscription to build your tree) and really getting access to all of the benefits of Ancestry DNA.  I will get a small commission if you use this link, at no extra cost to you whatsoever – it helps me support this website, and thanks 🙂 Ancestry Free Trial


I hope that this post has helped you learn more about how to filter, sort, and even search your Ancestry DNA match list. If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you would like to share your own tips for using your DNA match list, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Thanks for stopping by!

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