Skip to Content

What is a Public Linked Tree on Ancestry DNA?

On your Ancestry DNA match list, you might have seen “Public Linked Tree”. In this post, find out exactly what this means, and how to access your match’s family tree.

One of the most interesting, exciting, and useful aspects of our Ancestry DNA results are the DNA matches that we get along with our ethnicity estimate. These are living people who are related to us in some way, and we can often figure out how we are related by comparing our family tree with theirs.

What is a Public Linked Tree on Ancestry DNA?

How can we tell if our DNA match has built a tree on Ancestry? Well, there are a few different ways, and I will discuss them below.

The four different types of family trees that your DNA match might have are as follows:

  • Public Linked Tree
  • Private Linked Tree
  • (Public) Unlinked Tree
  • Private Unlinked Tree

And of course, we have the “No Trees” matches. You will learn what this means for your DNA match research, too.

We will start off with one of the most common questions that I get about this topic, which is the meaning of a “Public Linked Tree”. If you see this on your list, you are in luck!

What does Public Linked Tree mean?

If your DNA match has a Public Linked Tree, this means that your relative has built a family tree that is public, also called a Public Member Tree, which means viewable to Ancestry subscribers. In addition, they have completed the steps to attach their family tree to their DNA results and have indicated who they are in the family tree.

I love it when my DNA matches have a Public Linked Tree. If they do, I can easily see the most recent few generations of their family tree on the match profile page, as well as surnames that we both share in common.

A Public Linked Tree makes it easy for DNA matches to figure out how they are related to each other. If matches are relatively close cousins, such as second or third cousins, they might need to only look as far as great-grandparents or great-great grandparents to determine how they are connected.

An addition benefit of having DNA matches with Public Linked Trees is the ability of Ancestry to use its software to analyze other public family trees and those of DNA matches to identify a potential common ancestor.

If we have the same ancestor in our tree, Ancestry will identify this individual and report it with a Common Ancestor Hint. Common Ancestor Hints can even show up when the ancestor isn’t actually in the tree, but Ancestry’s software can determine that the person is likely the ancestor shared (based on the analysis of other family trees).

What does Private Linked Tree mean on Ancestry?

If your DNA match has a Private Linked Tree, it means that they have built a family tree on Ancestry and linked it to their DNA results, but they have set the privacy for the tree to “private”. Ancestry DNA users are unable to view private trees, even with an Ancestry subscription, unless they have been invited to view the tree by the tree owner.

There are many reasons that someone might choose to set their family tree to private, even if they go through the steps to connect it to their DNA results. For example, the person might not be sure of their research, want to protect the privacy of their family members, or might have been adopted as a child.

Example of a Private Unlinked tree on Ancestry DNA

If your DNA match has a private, linked tree, you might find that they are interested in learning more about their ancestors and may be willing to share information with you. A polite message is a great way to make contact with your relative.

You never know what you might learn!

What does Unlinked Tree mean?

You might find many DNA matches on your list that have Unlinked Trees. This means that your DNA match has built a family tree that is set to public, but they have not taken the steps to connect the family tree to their DNA results.

What does Unlinked Tree Mean on Ancestry DNA, example of a match with an Unlinked tree which is also public

The most common reason that someone has a Unlinked Tree is that they are not aware that they can get access to extra features from their DNA results by connecting their tree to their results. We do occasionally have DNA matches who are interested in genealogy, but are not focused on researching DNA matches, which would mean that they have chosen not to connect their results to their tree.

We might also find that our DNA matches have built public family trees for other members of their family, or even for friends, which would also explain why their tree is not connected to their DNA results.

If you have an Ancestry subscription, you can access public family trees that your DNA match has built by accessing their main Ancestry profile, which you can do by clicking on their name from the DNA match profile page. You will be able to see all of the family trees that they have built, unless they are set to private.

Since the DNA match has not connected their tree to their results, we can’t always know for sure whether we are related to the people in their public family trees. It is important to keep this in mind when exploring those Unlinked Public Family Trees.

What does Private Unlinked Tree mean?

If your DNA match has a Private Unlinked Tree, it means that they have built a family tree on Ancestry, but it is set to private and they have not linked it to their DNA results. These types of trees are not viewable by Ancestry DNA users or subscribers unless they have been specifically allowed to access the tree by the person who built it.

example of a private unlinked tree on Ancestry DNA match list

Even though it might not look like a DNA match with a Private Unlinked Tree is interested in connecting with DNA matches and learning about shared ancestors, it is still well worth the effort to reach out to see if you can be of assistance. Perhaps you can both learn from each other and explore your shared ancestry together.

What does No Trees on Ancestry DNA mean?

Sometimes, our DNA matches have no family tree connected to their results and have not built a family tree on Ancestry. At first glance, it might seem like these DNA matches might not know anything about their family tree.

What Does No Trees Mean on Ancestry? Example of a DNA match with no tree on account

It is certainly true that some people do Ancestry DNA tests just to get an ethnicity estimate, we cannot assume that this is the case with every DNA match that has no tree. There are many reasons that your DNA matches might not have a tree.

Many people know a lot about their family tree and have built it using a software program on their computer, or have it stored in a filing cabinet at home. Or, they might have a lot of family information memorized and simply have not had the time or inclination to put it all down in an organized format.

If you find an interesting DNA match that doesn’t have any family tree, it is still a good idea to contact them to see what they are interested in learning about, and whether you could both benefit from sharing details about your family tree.


I hope that this post has helped you understand more about the difference between public and private trees, whether they are linked or unlinked to your genetic relative’s DNA results. In addition, I hope you have gotten some good ideas about how to use these trees to learn more about how you might be related to your DNA match.

If you have any questions about something that you have read in this post, or if you would like to share one of your own tips for finding your connection to a match, please feel free to join us in the discussion below.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Share the knowledge!

Why is Cause of Death Important in Genealogy_
← Previous
Why is Cause of Death Important in Genealogy?
Why Are Old Newspapers Useful for Genealogy
Next →
Why Are Old Newspapers Useful for Genealogy?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.