Creating A Search String | Legacy Family Tree

Legacy Family TreeSince Tessa Keough gave me such high praise in her latest LVUG hangout called Search the Internet with Legacy for something I haven’t even done … showing how to create a custom search string … and raising your expectations sky-high, I’d better get to it.

Search strings are used in Legacy’s Search Internet feature. This is automated searching from within your family file so you don’t have to repeatedly type into search boxes at various online databases.

You highlight a name in your Legacy file and click Search Internet for Current Person, choose the database you want to search and off it goes to bring you the search results instantly. I wrote about this previously at Legacy’s Search the Internet using Find A Grave as an example.

Legacy includes about 20 common search sites and will display up to 8 at a time. You can create your own search strings for databases that are not already included.

I’m going to show you a very simple example so we don’t get overwhelmed. And because it’s late and past my bedtime.

Creating A Search String

Let’s say you want to add North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979 as an automated search. This is a FamilySearch database and FamilySearch as a whole is already included in Legacy’s default list but, for the sake of argument, let’s say you want to search North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979 specifically and filter out everything else that might come up.

First, go to that database ( and type in any person’s name. I’m going to use John Smith and my apologies to all the Smiths in the world who chronically get used this way.

I type in his name and click Search.

A long list of search results show up (7,647 to be exact) but this is not what I’m interested in. What I want to copy and paste to my notes is what’s in my browser address bar which is this:

In order to make this specific search string for John Smith into a generalized search string to use in Legacy, I have to replace John with [firstname] and Smith with [surname], which looks like this:[firstname]~%20%2Bsurname%3A[surname]~&collection_id=1675514

Voila! I now have the correct search string to add to Legacy’s Search Internet feature. See the previous post about searching the Internet from inside Legacy for details about where to put the search string and how to use it.

If you’re doing a search that includes dates, do a fake search with dates in order to get the URL to include the dates. Then customize it in a similar way. According to Legacy’s Help file (where you can read more about this) the fields that can be used for replacement in search strings are:


Create a search string of your own, add it to Legacy, take it for a test drive and see how it goes.

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