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How to Get Started With Gedmatch

Do you want to know how to to get started with Gedmatch? In this post, I’ll give you the step-by-step instructions you need to start using the amazing DNA tools available on the site.

In order to get the most from Gedmatch, you should read this post in its entirety.

We’ll discuss:

  • Uploading your data to Gedmatch
  • How long it takes Gedmatch to process your upload
  • Important vocabulary and definitions
  • How to use Gedmatch
How to Get Started With Gedmatch

The first time I logged in to Gedmatch, I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information at my fingertips. It took a lot of time for me to figure out, through trial and error, exactly what I needed to know to learn as much as I could from my DNA on Gedmatch.

My goal with this post is to help you have a great experience with the site right from the start and learn as much as you can about your unique DNA.

What is Gedmatch?

Gedmatch is a volunteer-run website that provides DNA matching and analysis tools to more than 1.2 million users. The site helps users identify their biological families, learn more about their ancestry, and find DNA matches from other DNA testing companies.

Most of the the tools on Gedmatch can be accessed for free, though there are some advanced tools available through a $10 per month subscription.

The funds from subscriptions help the volunteers at Gedmatch pay for the huge cost of running the site, which has been reported to be as high as $200,000 per year.

In this post, I’ll focus on the free tools available at Gedmatch, so you don’t need to get a subscription to use the information that you’ll learn here.

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How do you upload to Gedmatch?

Gedmatch does not do DNA testing, so in order to take advantage of this free website, you’ll need to download your raw DNA data from your testing company.

All of the top DNA testing companies allow you to download your DNA from their site. Some people like to download their DNA files to keep on their computer as a backup.

Other people (like us!) download our DNA to upload to other sites. These are links to some of the posts that I have written specifically to help readers download their DNA from their DNA testing companies:

Once you have downloaded your DNA from your DNA testing company, you can upload the DNA file to Gedmatch.

You can follow the instructions on the following post in order to get started on your Gedmatch upload:

If you did two DNA tests, should you upload both files to Gedmatch?

It is important to note that if you did a DNA test with more than one of the following DNA testing companies, you only need to pick one DNA file to download and upload to Gedmatch:

  • 23andMe
  • Family Tree DNA
  • Ancestry DNA
  • My Heritage DNA
  • Living DNA

The DNA information contained with the raw files from any of these companies, while not exactly identical, will be largely the same. Uploading two files won’t give you any noticeable advantage.

How long does Gedmatch take to process?

The time it takes for your Gedmatch upload to process will be much faster than it took to get your initial DNA results back. You’ll be able to use some of the tools on Gedmatch immediately and will have full access to all of the free tools within several hours.

Vocabulary for understanding Gedmatch tool results

Now that you have your DNA uploaded to the site, there are some important terms that you should understand to make it easier for you to navigate through the site and the available tools.

What is are kit numbers on Gedmatch?

When you upload your DNA file to Gedmatch, you are assigned a kit number. This kit number corresponds to your DNA file on the site.

Everyone on Gedmatch who has uploaded their DNA has a kit number.

In order to use most of the tools on Gedmatch, you will need to have your kit number. Certain tools (like the ones you use to compare your DNA with that of someone else) will require your kit number and the kit number of your DNA match.

You can share your kit number with DNA matches on your DNA testing site. Many people have uploaded their DNA to Gedmatch, and sometimes find it easier and more informative to compare our DNA on Gedmatch.

What is a centimorgan

Most of the results of tools on Gedmatch will include information about shared centimorgans, or centimorgans. The word centimorgan, which is different than a centimeter, is usually abbreviated using “cM”.

Centimorgan is the word that geneticists, and genetic genealogists like us, use to describe genetic distance between the start and end points of a shared DNA segment.

Sharing more centimorgans typically means a closer relationship. You can read more about shared centimorgans here:

What does “Total cM” mean?

As we discussed above, “cM” means centimorgan. You can probably guess now that “Total cM” means “total centimorgans”.

“Total cM” signifies the total amount of shared centimorgans that you and your DNA match share.

What does “One-to-Many” mean on Gedmatch?

“One-to-Many” is a tool that compares “one” DNA kit (usually yours) to all of the Gedmatch users to find the closest matches.

You can learn more about how to use the Gedmatch One-to-Many tool here:

What does “One-to-One” mean on Gedmatch?

The One-to-One tool on Gedmatch is a way for two people to compare their kits to check for shared DNA. This means that “one to one” simply standards for comparing one kit against one kit.

You might use the Gedmatch One-to-One tool to further examine a DNA match that you found on the One-to-Many results, or to compare your DNA against someone who gave you their kit number to check for shared DNA.

To learn more about how to use the Gedmatch One-to-One tool, check out this psot:

What is X-DNA?

X-DNA is DNA that is contained on your X chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes and males have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome.

The unique pattern of inheritance of X DNA can help you learn how you are connected to a match.

There are few hard and fast (and easy to explain) rules pertaining to X-DNA, but you can learn more about it in these posts:

What is Gedmatch admixture?

The word “admixture” means, technically, something that is mixed with something else.

From a genetics perspective, people use the word admixture to describe which regions of the world most closely matches our ancestry. This is most commonly reported in your ethnicity estimate.

If our ethnicity estimate shows that we have most of our ancestry from one region and little from other regions of the world, we would say that we have little admixture.

If our ethnicity estimate shows that we have had genetic input from many regions all over the world, then we would say that our DNA has a lot of admixture.

Gedmatch has calculators that are based on different sample populations that users can use to get “second opinions” about their admixture (ethnicity/ancestry):

What is a Gedmatch GEDCOM?

When we build a family tree using software or a family tree website, we can usually download the data from the tree into a family tree file. This special genealogical data file is called a “GEDCOM”.

I highly encourage people to upload their GEDCOMs to Gedmatch. The more people upload their family trees to the site, the more useful the site becomes for all of us.

These are a few posts on the topic of GEDCOMs:

How to use Gedmatch?

The information that you learn from Gedmatch can be used to build your family tree, map your chromosomes, and discover new family members.

Exactly how to use the site depends on your individual goals.

For more information about how to use the Gedmatch site, you can check out the free tutorial that I wrote on the topic. It covers all of the most popular tools on the Gedmatch site:


I hope that this post has helped you understand all that you need to know to get started using Gedmatch. It is such a helpful site, and I am positive that you will learn more about DNA then you ever thought possible.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, please feel free to join us in the discussion below.

Thanks for stopping by today!

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