The iPhone has come a long way since it first appeared in 2007. Unfortunately, the process of setting a song as your own custom ringtone or alarm hasn’t changed.
This could be the reason why you always seem to hear the same old iPhone tones as there are few steps to create a custom ringtone for an iPhone. Apple still sells ringtones through the iTunes Store, so we thought we’d remind you that there’s also a free way to add your own ringtones to your iPhone.
There are also some other tones and alerts that you can customize for a more personal device.
1. Prepare your song or alarm
It goes without saying that you need to choose a song or sound that you want to use as your ringtone or alarm, whether it’s the Theme melody for MASH or the seconds-long “You have been discovered!” Noise from Metal Gear Solid. This is your source material and can be from an MP3 file you downloaded or from a track already in your Apple Music or iTunes library.
You can use any song or sound as long as you have the file in a DRM-free format. Essentially, this means that if you usually stream music via Apple Music or Spotify, you’ll need to download or import a file from somewhere else to use it as a ringtone. For the same reason, you can’t use songs you’ve purchased from the iTunes Store either.
If you want to change your iPhone ringtone without using a computer, you’ll need to use GarageBand to create a ringtone instead.
After getting the source file, you need to trim the ringtone song to around 30 seconds. You can achieve this with Apple Music, iTunes or any other audio editor. You can use any of the following methods.
With Apple Music or iTunes
Again, this only works with music that you imported directly (from your own files).
Locate the song you want to use in your library (import it if you haven’t already), ctrl-click or right-click and select it get information. Navigate to options tab where you see begin and To stop Hints. You can use these to create a shorter version of your song by choosing when to start and stop playback.
Ringtones can’t be longer than 30 seconds, so make sure you stick to that length or less no matter where the start time is. Once you have selected an area, press OK.
Now go with the song you just edited File > Convert and choose Create AAC version. A duplicate song that is shorter than the original should appear. Click and drag it to your desktop for safekeeping, then delete it from your Apple Music or iTunes library. You should also revert to the original song and remove yours begin and To stop Hints.
If you don’t see an option to do so Create AAC versionopen Apple Music or iTunes settings and go to Files > Import Settingsthen adjust Import with to AAC encoder.
Using QuickTime Player
QuickTime Player on Mac is a powerful tool with some nifty hidden features. Just open any audio file you downloaded in QuickTime go to Edit > Trim and drag the sliders until you are happy with your selection. Again, you need to limit the audio to 30 seconds or less. When you’re ready, go to File > Export > Audio Only and save the file to your desktop.
The file will be in AAC format, which is exactly what you need.
Using a different audio editor
Other audio editors give you much more control over your audio file. You can edit audio on a timeline, add effects, turn up the volume, or create something completely unique. Check out our favorite Mac audio editors to find something that fits your budget.
The key is exporting to AAC format. If your chosen audio editor can’t do this, you’ll need to use Apple Music or iTunes instead:
- Save your audio in .WAV format (uncompressed).
- Import your file to Apple Music or iTunes File > Add to Library.
- Locate the file you just imported, select it, and then go to File > Convert > Create AAC Version.
- Drag the new AAC file to your desktop, then delete both the original and duplicate AAC from your iTunes library.
2. Change file extension and import
Now that you’ve cropped your audio to size and in AAC format, it’s time to get your computer to label it as a ringtone. Locate the file on your desktop, rename it and change the extension from M4A to M4R. To do this, Control-click or right-click on the file and click Rename.
On a Mac, you might just need to add the file extension and you’ll be prompted if you did it correctly. If you don’t see the original file extension, open Finder and go to Finder > Preferences > Advanced > Show All Filename Extensions.
If you’re using Windows and can’t see the file extension, you need to tweak a setting. To do this, open file manager and go to View > Show then select Filename Extensions. For older versions of Windows you may need to visit Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > File Explorer Options > View then disable Hide extensions for known file types and hit Use.
You should now see file extensions and, more importantly, change your file from M4A or AAC to M4R. All you have to do is sync your M4R file to your iPhone.
3. Sync your iPhone
Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable. If prompted, agree trust the computer or iPhone from the popup on both devices. Then open Finder (if you’re using macOS Catalina or later) or iTunes (if you’re using Windows or an older version of macOS).
Select your iPhone in the sidebar in Finder or in the top-left corner in iTunes, then go to General or Summary Tab. Enable the option to Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows.
Finally, drag and drop your M4R ringtone file to the General or Summary tab and then click Synchronize to sync it with your iPhone.
When you’re done, grab your iPhone and go to Settings > Sounds & Haptics (or noise and vibration on older devices) and select your tone below ringtones Possibility. You can also set these ringtones like any other alert tone including text tones, new email notifications, reminders and so on.
Other sounds you can customize
Your new ringtone can be used as a system-wide notification for all contacts, or you can assign specific tones to specific contacts. To do this, go to Phone > Contacts and find the contact you want to assign a ringtone to. Hit To edit and scroll down until you see ringtone. You can also apply a custom one text tone here too.
Apple is built in Clock The application can also be customized to issue various alerts. the timer The feature is simple, but can use stock sounds and any ringtones that you manually synced from Apple Music or iTunes. the alarm The feature can use a different tone for each alarm set, including default tones, synced tones, and music you’ve synced to your device.
And yes, that includes DRM-protected Apple Music songs. Just scroll to the top of the list when specifying an alarm sound and tap it Choose a song.
You can still buy tones
A much easier way to get ringtones on your device is to buy them through the iTunes Store. This seems to be the main reason Apple hasn’t made adding your own tones easier, with fewer hoops to jump through. It also means people are still buying ringtones for a few dollars each.
Whether you want to put the effort into converting, importing, and syncing is up to you. You can buy two seconds of Chewbacca’s roar for $0.99, or you can find the sound yourself on the internet and make it for free. Check out our video game ringtones collection for more ideas.
Get more free ringtone ideas online
Learning how to set a song as a ringtone on your iPhone is only half the battle, the other half is choosing which song to use. Luckily, there are many websites that you can visit to get ideas for free sounds to use for your iPhone ringtone for plenty of inspiration.
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