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Hacks and Shortcuts
• Load images quickly. Viewing a page opens a new window in which the image loads using the free Adobe Flash player. (If it doesn’t open automatically, you may need to download Flash.) If images load slowly, try downloading the enhanced viewer using the links for Mac or PC users here. (At press time, the enhanced viewer didn’t work with Windows 7.)
• Go wild. When searching censuses and military records, you can use * as a wildcard for one or more letters (including the initial letter). You can even use two asterisks in the same search, before and after the letters you’re sure of. This works on names and other word-based fields (except drop-down menus).
• Jump to the page. If you already know what census page you want to view, zip straight there with the Census Reference Search <www.findmypast.co.uk/referenceSearch.action>.
• Try variations. On the results pages for the basic search or any single-census search, check the Include Variants box to add common spelling variations of a name to your search. This also works on a few other databases, including passenger lists and crew lists.
• Use other fields. Only Findmypast lets you search every field of every English and Welsh census from 1841 through 1911. The available search options differ by census. Click the Advanced Search tab to search for, for example, any lighthouse keeper named Daniel (last name unknown) living in Kent in 1881.
• Reverse the names. Most people were recorded on the census by first name, then last name. But in some cases—such as people in institutions—the last name was recorded before the first name. Try switching the first and last name fields.
• Be wary of ages. When searching military records, consider that soldiers recorded as up to age 22 at death might really have been as much as five years younger than the stated age. An estimated quarter-million underage British boys enlisted from 1914 to 1915; about 120,000 of them were killed.