Help > Search > Search engine features and options

Search engine features and options

The Geneanet search engine has a user-friendly interface and advanced options to help you find your ancestors in our database!

Note that a Geneanet Premium membership is required to access the advanced options.

Settings for some of these features can be configured with the “Preferences” button at the upper right of the search screen.

Alerts: After a search, you can use the red “Create New Alert” button at the upper right to be informed when your search query finds new records or individuals. Go to “Search” menu / “Your alerts” to edit your alert.

Search your ancestors form

The search engine is your key tool for finding ancestors in Geneanet family trees and collections. Note however that our Genealogy Library (over 3 billion individuals indexed) has a separate search screen here. A search in the Genealogy Library is also available from any search results screen.

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Name variants

You can search name variants while excluding some names from the search query.

For example, if you are searching the Bonhams but not the Bonham Carters, enter ‘Bonham’ in the name field and enter ‘Carter’ in the names to exclude.

The search engine will search the name exactly as you have entered it. However, if you check the “Name Variants” box, common alternate spellings of a name will also be searched. For a last name, click the (Configure) link to see the known alternate spellings; you can exclude each of the known variants, and add a new variant to the list if you wish.

The red dot indicates that these options are active, to remind you that they will apply to the search.



Reverse: Note that if you enter a spouse, after running the search query a first time, you can return to the search screen and switch the spouses for a new search with the “Reverse” link located near the spouse’s first name.

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Wildcard characters

Use an asterisk character (*) to replace two or more characters in the name or place fields. For example, ‘ba*ter’ will search for ‘baxter’, ‘backster’, etc. This wildcard cannot be used as the first character.

Use a question mark (?) to replace one character in the name or place fields. For example, ‘mari?’ will search for ‘marie’, ‘maria’, etc. This wildcard can be used as the first character. Note however that this wildcard will not match the ’empty string’ (no character), in other words ‘mat?hew’ will match ‘matthew’ but not ‘mathew’. Use the asterisk in this case, which matches the ’empty string’.

You may use more than one wildcard. For example, ‘?i*erman?’ will match ‘zimmermann’, ‘timmermans’, ‘libermann’, etc. Place example: ‘du?barton*’ will match Dunbarton, Dumbarton, and Dunbartonshire.

Nearby places

If the place (town, village, district, or city) you have entered is in the Geneanet places database, you can automatically search in nearby places up to 200 km (about 120 miles). The search results screen may show you a small map with the search area.

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Multiple places

You can search individuals from multiple places by clicking “Add a place”. This is very useful for metropolitan areas which straddle states, provinces, council areas, etc. Note that this option will disallow wildcards and variants for the first place, and that you cannot remove a place once added to a search. Restart the search screen in this case.

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Search results list

The search results list has powerful features.

Search results from members’ family trees, archival records, indexes, pictures, etc. are now displayed in the same list. A link to the separate Genealogy Library database is in the upper right corner of every results page. If a large percentage of search results come from a single source which you have already viewed, you will be offered the option to exclude this source from search.


Pass your mouse pointer over the name of an invididual to open a tooltip where you can immediately search for the parents of the individual, and see at a glance the information available (birth, death, occupation, number of children).

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Sort search results by relevance, name, year and nearby places.


In the left sidebar, you can edit your search and apply filters to the search results list.

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If you are not a Premium member, you can filter out Premium records in the search results.

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You can search only individuals with known ancestors and/or descendants.


You can filter for records with sourced information.


It is also possible to filter for results with images, and to limit search to records from a single Geneanet member, or to exclude one or more member’s records.

Need help?

Go to our forum to ask for help on any topic related to the Geneanet website or if you need help with your family history research.

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