Geneanet Advanced Search Tips

Posted by Sean Daly on May 13, 2022

Geneanet’s basic search is free for all, but Premium members know they have a powerful and flexible search engine at their fingertips. Learn some advanced search tips and tricks to get the most out of your searches!

The rapid development of online genealogy in the past decade has been made possible not only by the massive digitization and indexing of offline records, but by search engines able to find individuals in these archival records and in family trees too.

Geneanet offers basic search for free, and it is always free to build a tree (with 1 Gb of space for photos & documents!). As well, data uploaded by members is always free, and many dataset collections are too. That said, Premium access among other advantages unlocks powerful and flexible search features you may not know about which will transform your research. Here are a few of them!

Create a customized alert

It’s easy to convert a search query into an alert… just click the button!

A carefully crafted search query can be complex, but useful since it filters out thousands of irrelevant results. What if you still aren’t finding your person, should you give up? No! New collections, new trees appear on Geneanet all the time. This is why creating a customized alert is worth the click. Just run a search, then click on the red “Create new alert” button. That’s it! Every day, Geneanet will run the search on the server and if there are new results, you will receive an e-mail with the link. You may create as many alerts as you wish. Want to edit or delete an alert? Head to the Search menu and select Your alerts.

Search in multiple places at once

At Geneanet, a “place” is a city, town, or village. No doubt you have encountered a situation where an ancestor lived in a metropolitan area which straddles two municipalities, or administrative districts, states or council areas. For example, the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in Minnesota are a single metropolitan area but independent municipalities. The city of New York often saw immigrants settling in New Jersey across the river, in Newark, Jersey City, or Hoboken. Another example: in the UK, the West Yorkshire Built-up Area (BUA) is composed of the cities of Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, and Huddersfield.

This 2011 map shows the West Yorkshire Built-up Area in the UK

Most cities and towns around the world are in Geneanet’s database and you can use the Nearby places feature to set a radius from 5 to 200 kilometers (sorry, no miles!). But you may get more pertinent search results by adding places explicitly, for example if you suspect that your people lived in a coastal town but are not sure of which one, or if they settled along a railway line near a city but you are not sure where.

Remember, by convention (for the sake of simplicity), in Geneanet’s database a place is considered to be in its current geopolitical administrative district today, not the historical one. That said, it’s always pertinent when citing your source to include such historical information, particularly when a place name has changed or is in a different language.

Another application of the multiple places feature is for when you already know where someone was born, emigrated to, and settled. Here’s a search matching a German immigrant from Lower Saxony who married in New York City, and settled in upstate New York:

Out of Geneanet’s 7 billion individuals indexed, this search query of 3 places at once found our man right away in a member’s tree!


Was your mystery man a grocer in Liverpool? This query will get you started!

Does family lore tell you your great aunt married a grocer in Liverpool, but you don’t know his name? Try a search with an occupation and a place together. Most search results will be from Geneanet trees… perhaps you will find a fellow member who knows the local history well, and can give you information! Keep in mind though that this is a literal text search; “grocer” will likely give you hits in English-speaking countries, but in a French city or town, you would need to enter “épicier” (or “épicière” for a woman, or a wildcard to cover both variants). Keep in mind that searching is an iterative process… it’s normal to adjust a search, to run it again, to widen or narrow the criteria, so you end up with just a few “candidate” results worth spending time looking into.

Reverse an individual with their spouse and run the search again

Click on the Reverse link to rerun the search query with the spouses reversed.

When you add a spouse’s name to a search for an individual, you boost the pertinence of search results considerably. Geneanet has many well-documented trees; you may find reliable source information easily. Consider filtering search results to those with sources, or with images! The help page is here.

To go further, try running a search again, reversing the spouses. Geneanet’s search engine lets you do this with one click: the Reverse link located above the spouse’s first name field!

We hope these tips encourage you to refine your searches of Geneanet’s rich collections. Wildcards are extremely useful, and there are other options such as filters for individuals with known ancestors and/or descendants; be sure to take a look at our Help page about search engine features and options!

Find answers to your questions on our forums.


For 25 years I have been looking for the family of Jean George ROSS, but the trouble is when a Frenchman tells an Englishman his name ROSS is what the Englishman thinks he’s saying. I have the feeling that his name could actually be ROUZE or one of many variants that could sound like ROSS to the English. All I know of him is his family were farmers and lived somewhere on the west coast of France, like Pas de Calais, or Normandie, As a young man he sailed from Le Havre to England and then on to Australia. Does anyone know of this family ?

This sounds quite helpful.

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