In a previous post, I wrote about making a network graph using the RootsFinder triangulation/cluster view with AncestryDNA shared matches. Today, I’m sharing how to make a network graph at RootsFinder with MyHeritage matches. RootsFinder can create a network graph based on segment triangulation, which is a unique feature. You can also create a separate MyHeritage network graph using just shared matches (and no triangulation data). I will show how to do both types of graphs in this post.
RootsFinder, owned by FindMyPast, is a family tree building and DNA analysis website. The premium level allows the use of DNA features and costs $5 a month. RootsFinder has a DNA feature called the triangulation (cluster) view, which allows you to view your matches in clusters – otherwise known as a network graph. In a network graph, the nodes are DNA matches, and the connecting lines are shared match connections. RootsFinder has a Facebook group called RootsFinder DNA Tools, which you might want to join if you are going to try this yourself.
To use the DNA tools at RootsFinder, you will need to start a tree there. You can do this easily by importing a GEDCOM file. The person whose DNA kit you are using should be included in your tree. When you add that person’s DNA matches, you will select their name from a list of people in the tree.
Why Use a Network Graph?
Network graphs show clusters of related matches. This helps you find the matches you want to focus on for a particular research objective. You might be wondering what else you can gain with a network graph of MyHeritage matches when MyHeritage already has an easy to use cluster creating tool – the AutoCluster technology they have licensed from Genetic Affairs. My answer is that you have more flexibility with network graphs to include the range of Shared cM that will be most helpful to your project. When I generated an AutoCluster report from MyHeritage, the report included 100 matches from 55-400 cM. However, for my research objective to find the tester’s 2nd great grandfather’s father, I need to include matches that go down below 55 cM. The most helpful matches may only share 15-40 cM.
As you can see above, most of the clusters are small because only 100 total matches were used. It would be more helpful to have a cluster analysis with more matches. Also, it’s not clear which of these clusters belongs to which of the tester’s four grandparent lines just by looking at it. RootsFinder network graphs start off black, but once you begin identifying the MRCA couple of matches, the graph is automatically colored with the four grandparent lines’ colors.
Another benefit of using a network graph is the ability to see the connections between matches in an intuitive way. When a line connects two nodes, you know that means they are shared matches. Network graphs also illustrate connections between clusters very well. If you see many connecting lines from one cluster to another cluster, you can hypothesize that those two clusters of matches are probably related along the same family line. Perhaps the MRCA of one cluster is the parent/child/relative of the MRCA of the other cluster. The image below illustrates the clusters and connecting lines of a network graph created in RootsFinder.
When you specify that a match is a descendant of someone in your RootsFinder tree, RootsFinder gives a color to the match. The help article about color coding your matches says “By Default, the paternal paternal line is blue; the maternal paternal line is green; the maternal paternal line is red; and the maternal maternal line is yellow.” In the image above, the maternal lines, yellow and red, share several double cousins. As you can see, the red and yellow clusters are interconnected.
The paternal lines separated out nicely into green and blue clusters, but a few of the matches in the green cluster are also shared matches with those in the red cluster. This can happen when shared matches are related to some matches in another cluster in a different way.
One of the benefits of a RootsFinder network graph is that there are only four colors. This helps you keep your clusters sorted into the four grandparent lines of the tester. In this case, the tester’s four grandparents are Dyer (blue), Bailey (green), Richards (red), and Ashton (yellow). The labels on the network graph in figure 2 include the surnames of the parents of each grandparent, i.e., Richards/Robinson.
Download Match and Segment Files from MyHeritage
Now that you know why a network graph can be helpful, let’s get started. First, you’ll need to download spreadsheets of matches, segment data, and shared matches that provide the data for the network graph. Technically, it’s not a spreadsheet file, like .xlsx, but a .csv file. A .csv file is a TXT file that can be opened with Excel or Google Sheets. CSV stands for comma-separated values that can be viewed in table format.
Download MyHeritage Matches CSV File
To download a .csv file of your matches at MyHeritage, simply click the three dots at the top of your match list next to filters, sort by, and the magnifying glass. From there, click “Export entire DNA matches list.” You will receive the list of matches by email in a zipped csv file. Download the file and then go to the location you downloaded it to. To unzip the folder, right-click to select “extract all,” then follow the instructions.
The matches .csv file will include the names of DNA matches, “age, country, shared DNA information, Smart Matches, and ancestors names in common, links to view the family tree they appear in, links to contact them directly, etc.” 1
Download MyHeritage Segments CSV File
It’s just as easy to download the list of segment data from MyHeritage. This file contains information about the segments you share with your DNA matches. Click the three dots at the top of your match list again and this time, choose “Export Shared DNA Segment info for all DNA Matches.” This .csv file will be emailed to you as well. Download the file and then go to the location you downloaded it to. To unzip the folder, right-click to select “extract all,” then follow the instructions.
The segments file includes “which chromosome the shared segment is located, its genomic position, the RSID, the segment size (in centiMorgans) and the number of SNPs.” 2
Generate CSV Files with DNAGedcom Client
Using the DNAGedcom client application requires a subscription to DNAGedcom ($5 per month). After you create an account and subscribe, you can download the DNAGedcom Client application to your computer. For additional information about how to use the DNAGedcom Client to download MyHeritage DNA match information, see their support article Help>DNAGedcom Client – Gather My Heritage.
A Note about Triangulation
The MyHeritage DNA testing database is unique because it not only shows the shared matches you have with each match, but whether or not those shared matches triangulate on a particular segment. Segment triangulation means:
Tester A matches Tester B,
Tester A matches Tester C,
Tester B matches Tester C
on the same segment.
Not every DNA testing company shows that.
Ancestry doesn’t show any segment data / triangulation.
FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) shows segment data, but not triangulation. For example, at FTDNA, if you are Tester A, and you’re looking at your matches, you can only see that you match Tester B and C. You can’t compare Tester B and C unless you have access to login and view their DNA results.
At 23andMe, you can do limited triangulation with those who are sharing reports with you. Go to “Advanced DNA Comparison” in the dropdown menu of “Family & Friends” and compare two of your matches to each other.
At GEDMatch, you can check for triangulation by doing one-to-one comparisons of Tester A to B, Tester A to C, and Tester B to C. Alternatively, you can use the Tier 1 Triangulation tool.
MyHeritage is special because the shared matches list lets you know if Tester B and Tester C also match each other on a segment by giving you this triangulation icon in the shared match list. See the image below. It’s the easiest site to find triangulation, in my opinion!
Load the CSV files emailed from MyHeritage
Open the DNAGedcom Client application on your computer. Log in and go to the Gather tab. Select MyHeritage. From there you will click “web login” which opens a pop up box for you to sign in to your MyHeritage account.
In the next section, load the match file and chromosome file that MyHeritage emailed to you into the DNAGedcom database. This quickly adds the data to your DNAGedcom database and speeds up the process of gathering the triangulation data and shared matches. Locate the unzipped matches and segments .csv files on your computer and click “load files.”
In the Profile section, use the dropdown list to select the profile for the DNA tester you’re using.
Choose cM Range
In the next section, choose the cM range of matches to download. RootsFinder will only be able to import 20,000 matches, so if you have more than that, you don’t need to download all your matches. The kit I’m using had about 17,000 matches at MyHeritage. I decided not to use all the matches in my network graphs – using too many matches can make the graph messy and hard to read – so I set the lower limit to 35 cM.
If you have done an AutoCluster report from MyHeritage, you can check that and see what range of matches were used, and that might help you decide. My AutoCluster for this tester included 100 matches from 55-400 cM. I want to include more matches in my RootsFinder network graph, so I decided to include matches lower than 55. When making a network graph with shared matches, there will be a lot of connecting lines (shared match connections), so I didn’t want to choose too low of a threshold, so that’s why I chose 35 cM. For the segment triangulation network graph, I chose a smaller minimum threshold since there are much fewer matches who triangulate than there are shared matches. So for my segment triangulation network graph, my minimum was 15 cM.
Download Shared Matches / ICW
I downloaded the shared matches first, with the range 35 cM and up. MyHeritage doesn’t allow DNAGedcom to download all the shared matches quickly – it uses a “gatekeeper delay” which slows down the process quite a bit. Gathering the shared matches can take a day or two, or several weeks. [/efn_note]MyHeritage DNA profile upload instructions, RootsFinder (https://www.rootsfinder.com/ : accessed 14 Dec 2021) > DNA > add profile > MyHeritage; only available to logged in users.[/efn_note] My suggestion is to limit your minimum to somewhere between 20-40 cM so it doesn’t take too long. Gathering shared matches from 35 cM and up took about half a day when I did it.
After you add the cM range, you will also need to check the box for “Gather ICW.” You can uncheck the other boxes.
I downloaded the triangulation data the next day. Before you gather again with a different cM range, copy the match file and ICW file into a new folder. DNAGedcom will overwrite these files when you download the data again with another cM range if you don’t. I made a new folder within the DNAGedcom folder and labelled it “[DNA Tester name] gather 35cM”.
Add your cM range, then check the box for Gather Chromosome, Gather ICW, and Gather Triangulation. Uncheck the box for Gather Trees. If you leave “Gather ICW” unchecked and just check “Gather Triangulation,” DNAGedcom will check it for you when you start the gather, probably because these are connected in the MyHeritage website. You can create a segment triangulation network graph without gathering the chromosome data, but I recommend that you do gather the segment/chromosome data. This will enable you to view the shared segments in RootsFinder when you click on a DNA match in the network graph. For my segment triangulation network graph, I chose a lower threshold of 15 cM. In the screenshot below, you can see the MyHeritage gatekeeper imposing wait times.
I set my computer to not sleep and let DNAGedcom run overnight to gather all the triangulation data. It was finished the next morning. If your monitor/screen turns off or goes to a screensaver, that’s fine. What you don’t want is for the computer to go to sleep – that will stop the gathering process.
Now we have all the files we need to make our two network graphs at RootsFinder!
Shared Matches (ICW) Network Graph
After DNAGedcom is done downloading the shared matches / ICW, you can load the files into RootsFinder. Go to DNAGedcom Client and on the home tab, it has the option to open the folder where the files of matches and ICW are stored. Review the location on your computer where the DNAGedcom reports/files are stored so you are ready to load them into RootsFinder.
In RootsFinder, click on DNA in the left hand menu. Click the plus sign on the right to create a new DNA profile. Type the name of your DNA tester and choose MyHeritage. Then, select the person in your tree whose DNA kit you are adding. Review the instructions then click “Choose File.” Select the “[DNA tester name] DNA Matches” file that DNAGedcom generated when you gathered ICW (this was my 35cM+ gather). A popup box will appear asking if you want to select a subset of your matches since RootsFinder only allows 20,000 matches. You can choose a minimum and maximum shared cM. I only had 457 matches at MyHeritage from 35cM and up so I included them all.
Now I am able to see my list of matches in the RootsFinder DNA matches list view.
Next, we need to import the shared matches (ICW). Using the blue arrow dropdown at the top left of the list view, select the third circle icon which is the network graph option (it’s labelled as triangulation in RootsFinder). In the screenshot below, you can see the four circle icons for different DNA views: list, segments, triangulation, and circle.
Click “Choose File” and locate the ICW file that DNAGedcom generated. I selected the ICW file from my DNAGedcom gather of ICW from 35 and up. Instantly, I was given a network graph with white nodes and black connecting lines:
To add color to the graph, you must identify the MRCA for some of your matches. Go to the list view in RootsFinder and click on your matches. Then click the edit pencil in the right pane. Choose the match tab and then answer the question “Who does this kit match?” I chose “descendant of a couple in my tree.” Then you can type in the names of the matching couple and RootsFinder will pull up ancestors from your tree. You can choose custom colors for descendants of that ancestral couple, or allow RootsFinder to use the default colors (blue for paternal paternal; green for maternal paternal; red for maternal paternal; and yellow for maternal maternal).
One great thing about adding the match information is that if you don’t know exactly who the common ancestor is, but you can determine which line of the family the match seems to descend from, you can add that. I used the option “in the family line of someone in my tree” for one of the matches who I’ve narrowed down through shared matches, locations, and surnames that they are on the Bailey/Coxwell line.
I spent about 20 minutes going through the match list and choosing the MRCA couple for some of the closest matches and matches I had already identified. I use the notes feature at MyHeritage to track who the MRCA is so I can click on that in the MyHeritage match list view and quickly see the MRCA. DNAGedcom did not download my notes about matches, unfortunately, although it did do that for my Ancestry matches’ notes when I did a graph with AncestryDNA matches. So, I opened two browser tabs – one with MyHeritage matches so I could see my notes and the Theories of Relativity, and one with RootsFinder to add the MRCA couple to the matches.
Then, I went back to the network graph / triangulation view. There were now some colored nodes, and the lines going from those colored nodes were also colored.
The larger nodes in the center of the graph are my tester’s closest matches – brother and 1st-2nd cousins. At the top of the graph, the outward facing arrows allow you to expand the graph and see individual clusters. The expand buttons were doing nothing, so I decided to remove the closest matches. The tester’s brother, who was colored purple, since he shares both maternal (red) and paternal (blue) sides, was connected to most of the other matches. When someone is connected to multiple clusters, it inhibits the separation of clusters. You can change the cM range for the graph by clicking FILTERS at the top. I lowered the cM range to 300 so it wouldn’t include the tester’s brother, and changed the bottom threshold to 45 to make the graph smaller and more manageable. The resulting graph was still a clump so I clicked the separation arrows at the top. This didn’t help much, so I manually clicked on colored nodes and separated them out from the clump by dragging them out. This helped me see the clusters better and the following graph resulted:
I wanted to remove the tester’s paternal second cousin so the clusters would separate more, so I set the upper threshold to be just below the 268cM that the cousin shared. Another option in the filters pop-up box is to select only matches who are from a certain person in the pedigree.
You can also filter to show only descendants of a specific side of the family by choosing people in the fan chart. I wanted to see matches from the paternal paternal line, so I double clicked the paternal grandfather in the fan chart. This selected the paternal grandfather and all his ancestors.
This gave me about three clusters. The cluster with the blue match are probably along the Dyer/Tharp line, based on the blue cousin who I’ve identified. This cluster also included another match who I had previously identified as a descendant of the Dyer/Tharp ancestral couple, so I clicked on her node and was able to edit her match info by clicking the pencil in the pane on the right. After adding her MRCA couple, the graph was regenerated and I had to separate it again. Clicking on the line tells you which matches are on each end of the connection. The cluster to the bottom right of the blue group had two shared match connecting lines to people in the blue cluster. This makes me think they are descendants of a MRCA couple further back in the Dyer or Tharp lines. The cluster on the left was all matches sharing 35-50 cM and I couldn’t identify any of the matches. Working on pedigree triangulation for them could be interesting.
My overall evaluation of the shared matches network graph is that it was difficult to separate out clusters with the expand arrows, but easy to filter out matches based on maternal/paternal grandparents. This is a great tool. I want to import all the matches down to 8 cM now so I can see more clusters. The filters are VERY easy to use and helpful. They provide so much flexibility with what you can view!
Segment Triangulation Network Graph
Next, we will create a network graph with just triangulation data – not with ICW data. Triangulation data is more specific, a subset of ICW, and will include less connections.
To create your segment triangulation network graph, you will need a separate DNA profile for the same tester (if you made a shared matches network graph already). To do that, in RootsFinder, click on DNA in the left hand menu. Click the plus sign on the right to create a new DNA profile. Type the name of your DNA tester and add “triangulation” to the end of their name, or something to make the profile name different, and choose MyHeritage. Then, select the person in your tree whose DNA kit you are adding. Review the instructions then click “Choose File.” Select the “[DNA tester name] DNA Matches” file that DNAGedcom generated when you gathered the triangulation data. For me, this was my 15cM+ gather. However, I noticed that the files generated only included matches from 27 cM and up, so the gather must have gotten interrupted and then generated the reports at that point. This batch included matches from 27-593 cM, for a total of 1207 matches. I decided to make my network graph with this batch of data, but I am currently gathering the matches down to 15 cM with the DNAGedcom Client.
After you load the matches file, you will see a list of the DNA matches.
Next, go to the triangulation view by clicking the arrow down and selecting the triangulation icon, the third one down. Click “choose file” and upload the triangulation file generated by DNAGedcom. You will instantly see a network graph of matches who have segment triangulation. They share the same segment of DNA with you and another match. The lines connecting two matches indicate that they triangulate on a segment. I was happy to see that the colors I had given to the DNA matches in the first profile for this tester carried through to this profile as well! I could clearly see the blue clusters related to the paternal grandfather’s line that I’m interested in.
I played with the filters and noticed that if I filtered out matches less than 35 cM, RootsFinder said there were no matches to display in the triangulation view. The filter pop-up box was still showing that there were 456 total matches from 35-593 cM, but apparently none of them triangulated with others in that range.
When I lowered the range one cM to 34 cM, there were 510 matches and the graph was able to be generated. The graph from 34-593 cM did not have 510 nodes though. I think this is because although my tester has 510 matches at MyHeritage from 34-593 cM, only a subset of those matches triangulate with another match in that range. When you hold down shift and drag your mouse over the network graph, you can select all the matches in the graph. You can then see all the selected DNA matches in the pane on the right. I copied and pasted these names into a spreadsheet to count them and there were only 188. So from 34-593cM, only 188 matches triangulated. And from 35-593 cM, no matches triangulated.
If you clicked on a node/DNA match in the graph, it will not show the segment data unless you import that into RootsFinder. So, next we need to import the segment data. To do this, click the arrow down at the top left and choose the second icon, segments. Click choose file and select the chromosome browser .csv file that DNAGedcom generated. After you do this, you will see a chromosome browser with the numbered autosomes 1-22 and the X chromosome. Unfortunately, MyHeritage doesn’t show X matches so you won’t find any shared segments in the X chromosome when using MyHeritage data in the RootsFinder segments view.
Now that you’ve added the segment data, in the triangulation view / network graph, when you click on a match, you will see the shared segments on the right pane, as shown below. I tried a new range of 31-593 cM, zoomed out to 50% on my browser window, then used the RootsFinder triangulation view zoom button to zoom back in. This gave me smaller nodes which I kind of liked. The graph looked like this:
The match I clicked on in the graph above was from the paternal great-grandfather, the side of the family that I’m interested in learning more about through DNA. When you click on a node in the RootsFinder network graph, the lines leading to triangulated matches are also highlighted.
Finding a Match in your Network Graph
I wanted to find one of the matches in the network graph who I had worked with in the past. Let’s call her Karen Smith. She shares 39.3 cM with the tester. I went to the list view by clicking the blue circle with a down arrow at the top left. This shows a list of all the matches. There’s a search box, so I typed in Karen Smith, with no results. This list of matches went down to 27 cM, so I was confident Karen Smith should have been included.
When I looked at the match list .csv file generated by gathering at DNAGedcom, I found that this particular person had her maiden name, Karen Baker, for the “name” and her married name, Karen Smith, as the “admin.” RootsFinder didn’t import the names of admins. Curiously, the match file MyHeritage emailed had Karen Baker for both the name and admin. Somehow DNAGedcom downloaded a different piece of data for this match’s admin name when it gathered the matches.
If you run into a problem like this, just know that the match you are looking for is probably there with a different name. Instead of searching by name, you can scroll down in the list to the # of cM the person shares. When I scrolled down to 39.3 cM, I saw the match with Karen Baker. If I hadn’t checked the .csv file downloaded by DNAGedcom, I wouldn’t have known they were the same person though. There could be twenty Karens on the match list!
I know how Karen Smith is related to my tester, so I added that to her profile and gave her the custom #1 color – lavender – so I could easily find her in the network graph. Then I went back to triangulation view and found the lavender node. She had only one connection! This shows me that I need to add additional data below 27 cM to bring in more matches to this cluster. This system of assigning colors to particular ancestor groups reminds me of the colored dot system at AncestryDNA. It’s intuitive and fun.
I love this segment triangulation network graph from MyHeritage matches. There’s a lot I can do with this graph to find relevant matches and visualize how they are connected to other clusters. Because the matches are triangulated, it’s easier to work with than sorting through overlapping segments where you’re not sure if they are maternal or paternal.
These RootsFinder network graphs are fantastic tools that make network graphs doable for anyone! With the simple filtering tool, you can easily hone in on a particular cluster and find the matches that are relevant to your research objective.
Let me know in the comments if you try it. Have fun!
- “How can I export the list of my DNA Matches?” MyHeritage (https://faq.myheritage.com/en/article/how-can-i-export-the-list-of-my-dna-matches : accessed 14 Dec 2021).
- “How do I export the information on the DNA segments I share with my DNA Matches?” MyHeritage https://faq.myheritage.com/en/article/how-do-i-export-the-information-on-the-dna-segments-i-share-with-my-dna-matches (accessed 14 Dec 2021).
This is the most extensive explanation of RootsFinder tools I’ve seen. Thank you so much! It definitely will help others learn how to use these wonderful tools. I had to learn the hard way of course, just play with it and learned as I went along. Of course, these are not useful for me and I posted my own results on RootsFinder DNA Tools Facebook page (I saw you liked my post), but it still can be useful for others, especially once you identify various branches of your tree. But now that this is written up, I’ll definitely direct people to this.
I had only heard references to RootsFinder during the class, and did not explore it as I was mastering so many other concepts. Now having used the RLP with DNA successfully to help a neighbor break a brick wall, and (getting paid for it which blew me away), I am very motivated to use it to save time in the processes of finding the matches needed to solve a brick wall. This one has great possibilities to break down my three brick walls that I have not been able to budge as yet. My success with my neighbor reassured me that I understood the process, even though my brick walls still stand strong. I am excited to get started with it this week!