Setting the Preferred Portrait in FamilySearch

Photos in FamilySearch.

A picture is worth a thousand words. And this is definitely true when trying to feel connected to your ancestors! Adding photos to FamilySearch is a wonderful way to enrich your family history, make new discoveries, and interest younger members of your family.  4.7 million photographs were added to FamilySearch in 2016 alone! With the new “feed” on your home page it is easy to discover family treasures in the form of old photographs.

You can also browse photos attached to people in your family tree by going to the Memories People view. The Gallery shows only photos and documents that you have uploaded. However, the People view shows all photos attached to your family tree! This can be like flipping through photos from an old shoe box on a Sunday afternoon! Be sure to involve your kids in this activity and tell stories about the family members you know.

Preferred Portrait.

In addition, you can select one of the images to become the “preferred portrait” for that individual in your FamilySearch Family Tree. The thumbnail of the preferred portrait appears in several places including the Person Page and Tree View (either traditional “landscape” view or “portrait” view). Furthermore, apps like The Family Nexus use this preferred portrait as well! Here is the complete list of locations where the preferred portrait appears in FamilySearch:

  • Summary card
  • Person page
  • Portrait view of tree
  • People tag list in viewers
  • People in Memories
  • On an album cover
  • Next to the name of the person inside the album

You can change the preferred portrait from the Person page or from inside the Memories album. Let’s review how to do that now.

Setting a Portrait

I say “Be gone!” to the boring default blue and pink shadow portraits! Uploading a photo as a portrait is easy to do! On the Details page of the person, simply click the portrait area. If there are no photos already attached to the individual you will see a new window asking if you want to upload a new memory or select one from the Gallery. In my case, I chose to upload a new photo.

From my own testing, FamilySearch seems to try to automatically detect a face and “zoom” in on the face when it creates the thumbnail image. In other words, rather than simply shrinking the entire image, it tries to focus on the face. If there are multiple faces in a photograph it will try to keep all of them in the thumbnail. However, by tagging an individual you can change this!

Initial thumbnail view

From the Person page, just click the photo to go to the Gallery. Then click the face of the person you wish to tag. That’s it! Now return to the Details page and the thumbnail has changed!

Thumbnail after tagging the person

If the person has already been tagged you can change the size of the circle and/or move it around to adjust it where you want it. You can edit, resize, or delete a tag in the Photos detail page. Click on the name of the tagged person to reveal a drop-down menu with different tools. Next click Edit Tag to resize or move the tag. Click Remove Tag to delete the tag for that individual.

Changing the Preferred Portrait

If there is already a preferred portrait for the individual, you can change it. According to FamilySearch, there are 2 different ways to do this.

Changing the preferred portrait from the Person page

  1. On the Person page, click the portrait
  2. Click a thumbnail in the Set your preferred portrait screen. You can choose the blank portrait with the question mark.
  3. A message appears advising you that the change takes a few minutes.
  4. Allow a few minutes for your change to take place.
  5. Refresh the screen (press F5).
  6. The preferred portrait now shows the thumbnail photo you selected.

Changing the preferred portrait from the Memories and People page

  1. ​Click Memories.
  2. Then click People.
  3. Click the arrows in the Show field, and click an option from the drop-down menu. The options are below:
  • All (default)
  • Close Relatives
  • Added by Me
  • Not Attached to Family Tree—do not select this one

4. Click the photo of the individual you want to change.
5. The Person page of Family Tree appears. Click the thumbnail photo to change the preferred portrait, as in the
preceding instructions.

Here is a 7 minute tutorial to walk you through this process:

So, go upload photos and set your preferred portraits for your family members!

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