Whatever happened to the AncestryDNA Helper?

This was supposed to be a product review of using the AncestryDNA Helper chrome extension to download matches. It’s turned into a bit of a detective hunt instead. The big reveal: the extension has been discontinued by the developer. Read on for more…

It’s still on the Chrome Store

At time of writing, the Ancestry DNA Helper is still the first extension to appear when you search the Chrome Store for “AncestryDNA”.

Ancestry DNA Helper in the Chrome Store

I remember using it in 2017. I’d been looking for tools to help me download matches from Ancestry DNA. The main references in the FB groups were to the “Snavely tool” which turned out to be this chrome extension.

It still installs

I installed it again today from the Chrome store, then logged into Ancestry. For a brief moment I saw a big green “SCAN” button, and then the Ancestry page refreshed and the button disappeared. And I couldn’t figure out how to proceed.

A look at the reviews and comments on the Chrome Store told me that it wasn’t working for other people either. One clue is that the extension was last updated on 14 November 2017. Ancestry has been through a lot of changes since then.

Going back to the Source

A bit of searching took me to the application’s website which has this statement:

“Due to the changes made by Ancestry on July 1, 2019, the atDNA Helper Extension no longer functions. There are no current plans to make atDNA Helper Extension compatible with the new version of Ancestry.”

Yes, this is the same tool. The page later refers to “atDNA Helper Extension (formerly known as AncestryDNA Helper Extension)“.

This tool certainly helped many people over several years. I’m sorry it’s gone, but am grateful to the developer, Jeff Snavely, for his work in sharing what he had first created for personal use.

Further back to Yahoo

I do think that the extension should be removed from the Chrome Store to avoid causing frustration to unsuspecting wannabe users. The web page also refers to a Yahoo support group, and I thought I might make the suggestion there. The Yahoo page told me that “Starting December 14, 2019 Yahoo Groups will no longer host user created content on its sites.

Undeterred (and not sure what the statement meant) I tried to join the group. I may have had a Yahoo account, but it is lost in the mists of time. I went through the hoops of creating a new Yahoo email address and account, but still couldn’t access that elusive group. This article is a clue as to why.

Alternatives to the AncestryDNA Helper

I wrote a review of an alternative application, Heirloom Software’s DNA Match Manager. It is free, and very fast at downloading basic match details, but it does not include trees or shared matches.

The Boyne Analytics Reports are a commercial alternative with a free trial. The spreadsheets do include information on trees and shared matches. Due to the inclusion of shared matches, these spreadsheets can be used for the interactive DNA match clusters available with the Boyne Analytics Graph Application.

Latest Update – Alternative Tools

Here is a roundup of tools to download Ancestry matches. As well as the tools mentioned in the prior paragraph, this covers the DNAGedcom Client.

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