November 20, 2017

MyHeritage DNA Matching – What I Like About It

MyHeritage DNA is new on the scene of genetic genealogy. With the recent launch of their DNA Matching, I decided to give it a test drive for you. I have now uploaded my test results from another company. Follow along as I share what I like about the MyHeritage DNA site…maybe it is just what you’ve been looking for!

MyHeritage DNA matching

By James Tourtellotte, photo editor of CBP Today[1] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

There is no question that the launch of MyHeritage DNA fully into the genetic genealogy market is exciting news. We absolutely need someone to challenge AncestryDNA. Competition is good.

In September, MyHeritage began to provide matching results for individuals who had uploaded their test results from another company to their site. As of today, uploading your DNA test results to MyHeritage DNA is still free, so if you have been thinking about it, you may want to take advantage sooner rather than later. As expected, the matches are only as good as the depth of the database, and it is early in the game. Their DNA database is small, but even now we can get an idea of what to expect from MyHeritage as they take their first steps into genetic genealogy.

One of the most exciting elements of their November 7, 2016 announcement is their development of a Founder Population project where they have hand-picked individuals to represent their reference population for calculating ethnicity. They plan to launch with 25 population groups, but will likely increase to 100 in a fairly short amount of time. This is a far more advanced ethnicity report than is currently offered anywhere else.

Transferring Your DNA Results to MyHeritage DNA

After you have figured out how to download your raw data from your testing company (see my instructions here:, and add it to MyHeritage (you have to add a family tree to MyHeritage to do this), you will need to wait the requisite time to process.  Then, you will receive an email notice that you have new DNA matches:

MyHeritage dna match alert

Email notice from MyHeritage regarding DNA matches.

You can access DNA matches when you log on to the site: under Discoveries, click DNA Matches (as shown below).


My Favorite Features of MyHeritage DNA

As for my favorite features, I like how they list all the possible relationships that make sense between you and your match, taking into account multiple factors like your age, gender, and your genetics instead of a simple, generic range like 2nd-4th cousins. The accompanying chart, which visually shows you all possible relationships, is also very helpful. You can access the chart by clicking on the little question mark icon next to the relationship suggestions.

I like that these suggestions remind us that our genetic relationships have different genealogical interpretations. Meaning that genetically, a 2nd-cousin-once-removed, a first-cousin-twice-removed, and a second-cousin, all fall within a similar genetic range and it is impossible to determine your exact relationship based on the genetics alone.


I also like how MyHeritage offers all three genetic descriptors of your relationship:

  • total amount of shared DNA
  • how many segments are shared
  • the size of the longest piece of shared DNA.

While this is more of an intermediate to advanced piece to your results, it can be important as your relationship analysis becomes more involved.

Addressing a Concern of Genetic Genealogists

MyHeritage makes a unique claim in their press release about their matching feature addressing a main concern genetic genealogists have: the lack of pedigree information provided by their matches. MyHeritage claims that 95% of their DNA samples have pedigrees attached. That is remarkable! However, from my own quick calculation of my matches, the number with pedigrees is more like 60%.

They also indicated that they will soon be doing a bit of pedigree-analysis for you by providing a list of shared surnames and locations between you and your match. This will be based on the pedigrees you have both submitted and will certainly be a welcome addition.

According to their November 9th Q and A, MyHeritage hasn’t decided yet if the ethnicity features will be available to those who only transfer, and they hint at many more features they have in the works that may only be offered to those who purchase their test.

In short, the MyHeritage DNA site is currently functioning much like the top three genetic genealogy sites (Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, and 23andMe) and like the free tool Gedmatch: it offers a meeting place for those who have been tested at one company to meet those who have tested at another.

More on DNA Testing and Genealogy

Super DNA quick guide bundleDNA testing is an incredible tool for genealogists. With several different types of tests and testing companies, hundreds of matches, and lots of technical jargon, it can be challenging to make sense of it all. My DNA Quick Guides to help you pick the right test, understand your results, and take the next steps with your matches. These guides can be purchased in printed format or digital downloads.


About Diahan Southard

Diahan Southard is Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She's the author of our DNA guides Getting Started: Genetics for Genealogists, and Y Chromosome DNA for Genealogists (click STORE in the menu above)


  1. Nancy Schlegel says:

    Thanks for pointing out ? icon on relationships – I’d totally missed it!!

    Re MyHeritage “soon doing a bit of pedigree-matching”, is this any different than:

    Family tree details
    RW appears in a family tree with 965 people that he manages
    Ancestral surnames common to JS and RW include Horn. (names replaced by initials, for privacy)

    … where the common surname, Horn, is highlighted – and clicking on, lists everyone with that surname in each tree, side by side.
    About 10% of my matches have had since the get-go, right after MyHeritage announced support for uploads from other companies.
    (the only good thing about endogamy: getting 80 matches immediately 🙂

    I also like MyHeritage flagging matches after a certain point as being less likely – as DNAland does.

  2. Nancy,

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience! I guess I don’t have any matches with a shared surname in their tree because I don’t see that feature on my DNA match list! Can you send over a screen shot? Just email me at


  3. Mary Tuxhorn says:

    Can I send you my Ancestry results or do I have to have ordered your MyHeritage DNA results too? I would order yours if I can have a physical location to mail a check. Thank you!

  4. Hello Diahan,

    I am not excited about MH limiting reporting if I upload my DNA from another service. As I see it, I am contributing my DNA to their database. It benefits both of us. Besides that, I have tested at 23andMe, Ancestry and FTDNA and I am a tier 1 user at GEDmatch. Furthermore, I pay their yearly fee to have my tree on their site. I think I have paid my dues. I am not going to upload my DNA until they sort this issue out. Yes, I am only one person, but someone has to voice their feelings.

  5. Mary,
    I think I would like you answer your question more directly, please email me at

    At this point we aren’t sure what MH will do when their new features materialize. I would assume that they would make those features available to you for a fee, even if you were tested somewhere else. This is what Family Tree DNA does with their transfer product. You can upload your autosomal DNA results from 23andMe or Ancestry (if you were tested before May of 2016) and then they let you look at a few of your matches. If you want to unlock all of your matches or use some of the tools, you have to pay $39.
    I agree though, at this point, since you have tested everywhere else, there is no hurry to get over to MyHeritage.
    Please do let me know if you have other questions.

  6. Hank de Wit says:

    Hi Diahan,
    I’ve had had my DNA tested using the MyHeritage kit. I have one match so far, which is nice, but it’s to a tree which is private and the other party hasn’t responded yet. Thanks for the pointer to finding the relationships graphic as I’d also completely overlooked it. Other readers here might like to know that they can download their raw DNA results via the “Manage DNA Kits” page, via the three vertical dots over to the right of each listed DNA kit – click on it for a menu item “Download”. You end up with a ZIP file containing three CSV files. These files are; 1: The main chromosomes 1-22; 2: The X-DNA; and 3: the Y-DNA. There doesn’t appear to be a mt-DNA listing. The files contain SNP data identified by the “rs” number. I’m a bit new to DNA analysis, but I was able to use online tools to help my identify my Y-DNA haplogroup, “I” and manually trawling through the SNP’s I think I’m “I1”. Most of the SNP’s in my Y-DNA file didn’t appear to correspond to useful discriminating markers. Luckily one of them L80:rs35960273 was listed, which suggests I’m on the “1′ branch of “I”. It would be nice if MyHeritage had provided this kind of information as well. As I don’t seem to have any mitochondrial DNA info I couldn’t delve down the maternal haplogroup. The site provides a useful HTML report if you upload your DNA data. The site suggests to unzip the three CSV files and to upload them separately, which I did. This costs $5+$2+$2=$9 which isn’t too much for the report. I’m not too certain about the usefulness of the report overall, but it’s reasonably cheap and made the initial “I” haplogroup identification easier. You might be able to concatenate the information from the three files into one and save $4, but I didn’t want to risk it.

  7. Thanks for your comments, Hank!

  8. Dave Brown says:

    Hi Diahan,
    I just received my MyHeritage DNA results, my first autosomal DNA test. Frankly I’m a little disappointed, and I’m hoping you can help me better understand what I’m seeing. Results say I am 87% British/Irish, 12% Scandinavian, and 1% Inuit. I agree that I’m mostly British/Irish, but there is also a pretty substantial German component to my ancestry; why doesn’t that show up? Also, at only 1% can I confidently assume I have an Inuit ancestor somewhere, or is that more likely a statistical anomaly?

  9. Hi Dave.
    Number one: it is important to understand the way each company breaks up the world. None of the companies are breaking German out on its own. 23andMe is the closest, with a French/German category. So likely your German is hiding in your British/Irish.

    As for your Inuit, I can’t be certain. I haven’t been able to see as much information about how MyHeritage is completing their analysis as I would like. There are a lot of factors that go into it. But in general, 1% is enough to say they are pretty sure you have some, but it is really difficult to say how far back in time that ancestor might be.

    Remember, the most genealogical significant portion of your results comes in your matches. Though by all accounts, MyHeritage needs to do a bit better with their relationship predictions.

    Hopefully that helped a little with your questions.

  10. My daughter was very upset when she found out that I ordered the kit, she claims that yall use this for cloning, and that it’s not accurate. Please let me know and please be l honest. What exactly is the DNA going to reveal and how do a person know that it’s legit?

  11. Keisha,

    The DNA test you order from a genetic genealogy company like MyHeritage,, or Family Tree DNA is meant to be used to trace your ancestry. Each website has a different terms of use agreement that you can read carefully to learn exactly what they can and cannot do with your DNA sample. In every case you can choose to have your DNA sample destroyed after testing and you can opt out of everything but the genetic genealogy service (which gives you list of DNA cousins and your ethnicity percentages). The DNA test can reveal your relationships to other people who have tested. Your DNA data, which you can download from your testing company, can reveal information about your health, though that information is not currently screened for or directly reported to you when testing with the companies I mentioned. There is a fourth company, 23andMe, that does offer health reports.

    We know from repeated experiences with testing known relatives that this testing does in fact work. It does link you to your cousins, and in turn can help you find your ancestors.

    I hope that helps!

  12. Nellie Nelligan says:

    My Myheritage DNA test results say 89% British/Irish but I’d like to know my % for Irish alone. Is there a DNA test for that breakdown? Thanks.

  13. Hi Nellie.

    AncestryDNA does break out the Irish from the British. You might also check out LivingDNA ( They are a new UK based company that offers can also break out your Irish from your British. They do not yet have cousin matching, so they are the best for other genetic genealogy efforts, but their ethnicity results are very interesting.

  14. Hi Diahan
    Some of the comments above mirror some concerns of mine. I also have mainly British heritage but would like a split into English/Irish so the LivingDNA might be worth looking at.
    I also had a story from a close relative of mine that there might be Australian Aboriginal component in our backgrounds, but I wonder if that would show up in the MyHeritage testing or is outside their testing boundaries.
    Do you know?
    A side issue: I had my DNA test with My Heritage and want to download the full results. I received an email giving me instructions but when I reach the Download screen, the word “Download” is greyed out. Do I need a paid MyHeritage account rather than the free one?.
    Many thanks.

  15. I tested with Ancestry then uploaded the results to MyHeritage. They show up fairly different between the two companies. Is there a chance MyHeritage would combine Luxembourg with England? Also, MyHeritage says 4.2 Jewish and Ancestry says 0.

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