Why do I see “unknown” individuals in my tree online after I sync my tree in Family Tree Builder?

There are two main reasons ‘unknown’ individuals may appear in your tree online after you sync it from Family Tree Builder.

Privatized individual in Family Tree Builder

Open your project in Family Tree Builder.

Search the name of the person that appears as ‘unknown’ on your family site.

Click Edit > Edit details of [name].

Click on the More tab.

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At the bottom of the screen there is a check box ‘This person is private (do not sync to family site)’.

Uncheck the box and republish your family tree to your family site.

Display and Data language in Family Tree Builder

In Family Tree Builder, it is possible to choose a DISPLAY language and a DATA ENTRY language.

DISPLAY language corresponds to all the buttons and command names in the program. DISPLAY language changes Family Tree Builder’s interface only and will not affect any information that you have manually entered in the tree.

DATA ENTRY language corresponds to the information you enter into the tree yourself. Names, places, notes, etc. are considered DATA.

Family Tree Builder allows you to enter data in Primary Data language, and Secondary Data language.

Here is the example of single data mode and dual data mode in Family Tree Builder:

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By default, Family Tree Builder is configured so that the Primary Data Language is the same as the Display Language. This means that upon changing the Display Language, you are also instructing the program to change the Data Language to match it. It is recommended that you open the ‘Languages’ window and make sure that the languages you want are configured to your liking.

You can open ‘Languages’ window by going to Tools menu > Languages in the upper toolbar.

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Problems may arise if you change the DISPLAY language along with Primary Data language. This will create the new language for your project, and even if you add data using the same language characters as before, you will do so under a new data language. Thus some information in your project will be added under one language, and some under another language.

This is the reason why you see ‘Unknown’ instead of names when you change language back or sync your tree to the site.


You started your project in Family Tree Builder in Spanish and added some amount of data. Then you switched the display language to English, and this changed the main data language as well.

Thus the new language for your project was added. You continued adding information in Spanish, but in fact it was added under English language. That’s why when you switch your language back to Spanish, you see ‘Unknown’ instead of data you entered recently.

How this can be fixed:

Use the Translation Wizard to translate the data into the language you want to continue working with. This will help you fill in names, last names and places without adding them manually in your main language. Dates and facts will be translated automatically. Please read the following article to learn how to use the Translations Wizard in FTB:  How can I use the Translations Wizard in Family Tree Builder?

If you use Translations Wizard, don’t forget to re-sync your tree.

Categories: Family Site, Family Tree Builder
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