Help File



FamilySearch Integration

Login and Registration

What Data We Download

Using the Map View

Social Media Sharing



Menu and Settings

Learn More

Premium Content


Welcome to The Family Nexus app for iPhone! We are so happy you have decided to learn more about your ancestors and the places that were significant in their lives. Our goal is to make it fun and easy to make new discoveries about your ancestors!

Whether you are new to family history or a seasoned researcher, we believe seeing your ancestors in the context of geography can provide new insights in to their lives. Come along with us on a journey of discovery and feel connected to your family like never before!
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FamilySearch Integration

The Family Nexus app for iPhone is FamilySearch Certified. By logging in with your free FamilySearch account we can automatically download your family tree for you! This has the added benefit of being able to learn about your family history with minimal work on your part.

As a FamilySearch Certified app we have undergone a rigorous review process to ensure we are handling your family tree data securely and accurately.

“The “FamilySearch Certified” designation is simply used to identify software applications that FamilySearch International (“FamilySearch”) believes to be generally compatible with or one or more of FamilySearch’s application programming interfaces. FamilySearch, however, takes no responsibility and is in no way liable for any such application. Accordingly, FamilySearch in no way warrants that any application associated with the “FamilySearch Certified” designation will function as intended, is free from harmful or undesirable aspects, or is free from errors.”
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Login and Registration

Once you login and grant permission for us to use your FamilySearch data we also ask you to register with The Family Nexus. You need to agree to our Terms and Conditions, and we make you aware of our Privacy Policy. Of course, you can always read the latest version of these documents on our website at

You can start using the app immediately even while we continue downloading your Family Tree data!
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What Data We Download

The very first time you login we begin downloading information from your FamilySearch Family Tree to your mobile device. We climb the tree and collect basic information about your ancestors and their families. For example, we start by collecting information about you, your spouse, your children, your siblings, and your parents. Then we move to your parents and collect information about their siblings and parents. We climb the tree for 6 generations, all the way to your 4th great-grandparents. We also get parent information at the “top” of the tree as well. This means, that we download 7 generations of your direct line ancestors (your 5th great-grandparents)! For most of our users the earliest ancestors we download were born over 200 years ago. And The Family Nexus app for iPhone makes it available to you at your fingertips!

We do the same thing for your spouse’s family tree as well. This way both of you (and your children!) can enjoy this app from a single device.

Progress of the download is displayed at the top of the screen.

Data Elements

For each individual in your family tree we collect the following basic information about their lives as stored in FamilySearch:

  1. Full name
  2. Family Search Person ID
  3. Portrait
  4. Birth date and Birth place
  5. Marriage date and Marriage place (only your direct-line ancestors, so if your grandmother was married more than once we only download the information about her marriage to your grandfather).
  6. Spouse’s name
  7. Death date and Death place
  8. Burial date and Burial place


After we download this data we go a step further. We take the places associated with each of these significant life events and we geocode them.  This means we take the information about the event location and we tie that to specific geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude). We store this location in the app and use it to plot all these life events on an interactive Google Map.

We use sophisticated algorithms to try to identify the correct location where it took place. However, if the data in your FamilySearch Family Tree is not “standardized” we may have trouble identifying the correct location. When this happens, you will see an icon like this  to show that we don’t know where this took place. Usually the location is incomplete or uses abbreviations we couldn’t recognize. In this case, you may want to go back to FamilySearch and correct the data. Once you have made corrections in FamilySearch, you can Refresh the data in The Family Nexus app for iPhone and see if we were able to plot the location! You can refresh by pulling down on the screen from the Person Details and releasing

You will notice that we put a map pin in the center of the most specific place name provided for an event. If your great-grandmother was born in “Pike County, Kentucky” we will place a map pin in the geographic center of Pike County. If your FamilySearch data indicates she was born in “Prestonsburg, Floyd, Kentucky, United States” we will place a map pin in the center of the town of Prestonsburg.

Stay tuned for future Premium Content that will allow you to move the pin or add a street address to create even more accurate maps!
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Using the Map View

The Map View is your main window in to the lives of your ancestors. It is fun and easy to navigate and explore the places where your ancestors lived and died.


You can zoom in and out by using the familiar pinch gesture. Pinch inward to zoom in and pinch outward to zoom out. Zooming in will allow you to see more details about the area, while zooming out helps you see the “bigger picture.”


To move around the map simply drag your finger across the screen. Dragging from left to right moves the map so you see what is over to the left (West). Dragging from top to bottom moves the map so you can see what is to the North, and so on.

Locate Me

Whenever you are in the Map View the “Locate Me” icon will appear in the lower-right corner of the map. Just tap it to center the map on your current location!

Map Pins and Clusters

Map View and Legend

As you explore the map you will see red map pins indicating that a life event of one of your family members took place in that location. You will also see colorful circles with numbers in them. The circles are called “Clusters,” and are used to “de-clutter” the map.

If multiple life events took place in the exact same location we display that by using a cluster. This helps you know that there is more than one event in that location, because otherwise the pins would literally be stacked on top of one another.

In addition, if there are lots of events in the same area, we group those together in to clusters as well so that the map pins don’t overlap. This cluster is located in the center of all these events.

As you zoom in and out you will see the numbers in the clusters getting larger or smaller. You will also notice that the numbers may move, either grouping together with other nearby groups (as you zoom out) or separating to give more details (as you zoom in). You may even see an individual red map pin separate out from the group as you zoom in.

This is a fun way to see concentrations of your ancestors’ life events! You may be surprised at some of the locations where many of your ancestors were from!

Tapping a Pin or Cluster

Event Card

Don’t stop exploring just by looking at the map, however. Tapping a map pin will open an “Event Card” and display information about the life event that took place in that location! At the top of the Event Card we show the type of event (such as birth or marriage) and the date. Below that we show the person’s name, life span, and FamilySearch Person ID. We also show the person’s portrait if it is available in FamilySearch!

You can tap the FamilySearch Person ID (shown in red text) on the Event Card or the Person Details to go to the FamilySearch website to see more about that person. From the FamilySearch site you can edit details as well. When you return to The Family Nexus app for iPhone you can refresh that person’s data by pulling down on the screen and releasing from the Person Details view.

Tapping a Cluster shows a list view of all the events that are grouped in that cluster. Tapping on a result in the list view will then display the Person Details.

Person Details

If you want to learn even more about a particular person simply Swipe up on the Event Card to view the Person Details. From this view you can see the Birth, Marriage, Death, and Burial information about this individual. The currently selected life event (if any) will appear in green instead of blue.

As you scroll down below the Event Card the first thing you will see is a Share icon. Tap this to share the Event Card on Social Media including Facebook and Twitter!

Person Details

You can explore even more from this view! Next to the location details associated with each event you will see either a red map pin, or a gray “crossed out” map pin. If there is no location information at all you will just see 2 dashes (this could be an opportunity for you to add this information in FamilySearch!). Tapping on an event with a red map pin will take you back to the map view with that event location centered on the map. The Event Card will also reflect the life event you tapped on.

If your ancestor was married, the app also displays the spouse’s portrait and name. The spouse’s name is a link. Tapping it will display that individual’s Person Details.

You may see a small “i” in a circle next to the Marriage information. This simply means that FamilySearch has multiple details associated with this marriage event. We are displaying the most recent change, but you can go to FamilySearch to see the other dates and places associated with this marriage event.

Tap the “Back” arrow at the top of the screen to go back to the map with the currently selected event centered on the map.
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Social Media Sharing

The Family Nexus app for iPhone lets you share your exciting discoveries with your friends and family on Facebook or Twitter. From the Person Details simply tap on the “Share” icon, and choose the Facebook or Twitter logo. Then type your message and Post!

Facebook Share

Using the #TheFamilyNexus hashtag helps join the conversation with other users making discoveries using The Family Nexus app as well!
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Tap the Search bar at the top of the screen to search for a Person or a Place. When you tap the Search bar you will see a toggle switch appear to let you select between searching for a Person or a Place by tapping on one or the other. The selected option is highlighted in blue. The default search is for a Person.

Search for Person

Search Results

To search for a person simply type all or part of their name in the Search bar. Remember we are matching your search criteria with the name as it is stored in FamilySearch, so there may be some spelling differences. If you can’t find someone right away, try to broaden your search by looking for just the first or last name. Capitalization is ignored.

Any matching results will appear in the results list displaying information about the Person, such as their portrait (if available), full name, and life span. Tap the one you want and you will be taken to the Person Details. From here you can explore their life events as described above.

Search for a Place

To search for a place type the location in the Search bar. You can type as much or little as you would like to find a particular location. Usually it is best to type more than just the city name to better identify the place you are looking for. We use the Google Map search engine to identify the places, so the experience should be familiar to most of our users.

After typing in your search criteria, hit return or tap the Search icon and then select the correct location for the matching results. The map will then change with the selected location in the center of the map. Any life events in the area will appear as usual.
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The Family Nexus app for iPhone brings your family history to your fingertips, and makes it easy to discover things you didn’t know! One of the coolest features is the alerts or notifications the app gives you about life events. There are two types of notifications: location-based and date-based.

Location-based Notifications

Notification List

Whether you are traveling cross-country or just headed to work, the app can notify you when you get close to a life event of someone from your family tree. In Settings you can determine how far away you are when you get the alert.

The alert will show a small message indicating the person and the event that took place. Tap the message to explore and learn more. It will take you immediately to the Event Card with the specific event location centered on the screen. Don’t forget from here you can swipe up to Share this on social media or to learn even more about this family member!

From the menu you can see a list of all the Notifications you have received, if you want to come back to them later.

If you live near where many of your ancestors did you don’t want to get annoyed by the same alerts every time you run out for milk and eggs. In Settings, you can also choose to turn off or “Mute” location-based notifications within a certain distance of your home.

Date-based Notifications

Date-based Notification

In addition, the app will notify you if a particular event occurred on this day in your family history. Just like the location-based notifications, the alert will give you a summary of the person and the event that took place in your family history.

What a great way to spend just a few minutes each day learning a little more about your ancestors!
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The so-called “hamburger menu” provides quick access to the following items:

  1. Search – this does the same as tapping the Search bar at the top of the screen
  2. Notifications – this is the list of all the notifications you have received. A pin icon means it was a location-based notification, and a calendar icon means it was a date-based notification. Tap one anytime to explore this fact again.
  3. Settings – Adjust your own preferences for things such as notifications and zoom level.
  4. Help – Access to this help guide!
  5. Logout – Tap this to logout of the app. You will be required to login again with your FamilySearch credentials when you open the app again.

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Tapping on Settings from the Menu reveals some important options. Let’s talk about each one.

“Notify me when I’m this close”

This setting allows you to choose a radius of 1 to 100 miles to trigger alerts of nearby life events of your ancestors. Just slide the blue circle left or right to adjust the distance. If you set it at 25 miles, for example, you will get an alert whenever you are 25 miles away from a life event! The exception to this is if you are within your “Home region.” The default setting is 50 miles.

“Mute this distance from Home”

The “Mute…” slider creates an “alert shield” around your home location where no location-based notifications will be received. If you slide it all the way to 0 miles you will get all notifications. Likewise, if the “Mute” distance is greater than or equal to the “Notify me…” distance you won’t get any notifications.

The purpose of the “Mute” setting is so you don’t get bothered by alerts every time you leave the house to run an errand. You might want to turn this to 0 miles to begin with, and then gradually increase it after you have become familiar with all the events that took place near your home.

This setting does not affect the date-based notifications.

“Set Home”

This button is extremely important. It allows you to tell the app where your home location is. This is only stored on your local device and is never shared with anyone! You can make any location your “Home.” This becomes the center point from which the “alert shield” extends.

Tap the button and it will take you to a map. Centered on the map is your current location. This works best if you are already at home. Simply tap the map pin icon on the right and it will place a pin in the middle of the map. If you are at home, and you haven’t moved the map around, your current location will already be in the center. If not, you can move the map around until the desired location is centered. To move the map pin, just adjust the map and tap the pin icon again.

When you are done tap “Save Home” to save and return to the Settings screen. Or tap the back arrow if you want to leave without saving.

“Default zoom level radius”

Under the heading “Search” is another slider which controls the “zoom level” when you do a search for a place. If you want to see more detail by default then have a smaller zoom level. If you want to see a bigger view then slide the control to the right and make the zoom level higher. You can always manually zoom in and out on the map after the search.

“Save Preferences”

This is an important button! After making any changes you should tap this button to save your changes. Otherwise, if you want to leave without saving changes, simply tap the back arrow.
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Learn More

You can learn more about how to get the most out of The Family Nexus app by accessing our other online resources.

The Family Nexus Blog: In The Family Nexus blog I cover a variety of topics related to family history. I try to make them interesting and educational.

Facebook page: Keep up to date on the latest happenings with The Family Nexus. Like our Facebook page and come back to visit often.

Twitter account: A new tweet goes out whenever a new blog article is posted. I also retweet other interesting posts about genealogy.

YouTube Channel: Educational videos about specific features and how to edit your FamilySearch Family Tree to get the most out of the app

Premium Content

In addition to the great features listed above, we have Premium Content coming soon! These will be one-time purchases that you can make inside the app to unlock these amazing features. Here is a sneak preview of some of the awesome things you can do in our Premium Content offerings:

Enhanced Location Feature Pack

Use the Enhanced Location Feature Pack to make your maps more exciting and accurate.

  1. Do you know the address where an ancestor was married? Move a life event pin to that location, or type in the address to geocode it to the more precise location!
  2. Show a Google Street View of a location in the Person Details.
  3. Get Navigation directions to a life event location
  4. In discussions with various partners to add more location-based content!

Advanced Filters Feature Pack

Take your map exploration to a new level with Advanced Filters.

  1. Display a “Family Map” of the Selected Person to show only events of his or her immediate family members. You have the option to toggle on/off parents, siblings, spouses, and children.
    1. Ability to change the colors of life event map pins based on their relation to the Selected person
    2. Time lapse plotter will plot the life events of the Family Map on the map one at a time in chronological order.
  2. Filter the map view to isolate just the ancestors of the Selected person.
  3. Filter by surname, date range or event type
  4. Draw lines between life events in chronological order.

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Have questions or problems? Send us an email!