How to: create a custom iPhone ringtone

How to: create a custom iPhone ringtone
So, you've just bought that shiny, new Apple iPhone 4S, and you're loving every aspect of it... but you just can't figure out one thing – how are you supposed to create a custom ringtone out of your favorite song, and import it into that beautiful but sometimes seemingly stubborn as hell glass-and-steel body. Or, here's another example (this time a bit more tragic) – you've been having the iPhone for the last few years, and you are loving every aspect of it, but you just can't figure out one thing -  how are you supposed to create a custom ringtone out of your favorite song and actually use it?! Well, the time has come to put an end to this misery, for there is a way to do this! Below you'll find our step-by-step guide, which includes all the details that you need for that doable, but, dare we say, slightly more complicated that usual process. Of course, this guide is for those users who want to create a ringtone from a DRM-free file, which in our case means a music file, which they have obtained from a place other than iTunes.

  1. Alright, first things first – be sure to get yourself a nice cup of coffee. You'll need it in order to stay awake while executing all of the steps. Hey, you want this custom ringtone or what?

  2. Now you need to pick a DRM-free song, which you want to make a ringtone of. Drag that file to your iTunes music library. Once you've selected the track in your iTunes library, you'd want to choose the exact part that you'll want as a ringtone. Feel free to listen to your song, and write down your desired start and stop times for the ringtone. Keep in mind that the passage shouldn't be longer than 40 seconds.

  3. Once you're ready with that, please right-click on the song, and choose “Get Info”. In this pop-up, you need to navigate to the “Options” tab, and right there you'll see options to set a “Start Time” and a “Stop Time”. You guessed it – this is where you'll have to input the times that you wrote down a minute ago.

  4. Now that you've done this, simply click the “OK” button to close the pop-up. From this position, you should again right-click on your track, and this time you'll have to choose “Create AAC version”. As you've noticed, the new, AAC version of your track has appeared in addition to your old track.

  5. Okay, so now you have a nice new AAC file, right? Right-click on it and choose “Show in Windows Explorer” for PC users or “Show in Finder” for Mac users. A new window will pop up, with the song selected, but let's first go back to the iTunes library and delete the AAC song from there. When prompted, you should choose “Keep File”.

  6. We're now left with an AAC file selected in Windows Explorer, or Finder, and this same file actually missing from the iTunes library. What we have to do now is to change the extension of this file. For those who don't know what a file extension is, we'll just quickly mention that it can be looked at as a part of the file's name, which defines the type of file. For Windows users, file extensions might be, or might not be visible. If you see the part “.m4a” written after the name of your AAC file in Windows Explorer, then you should just right-click on the file and choose “Rename”, after which you have to replace “m4a” with “m4r”, which is obviously the file extension for iTunes ringtones. However, if file extensions aren't visible on your system, do the following: while in Windows Explorer, hit the “Alt” key on your keyboard, and choose “Tools->Folder Options” from the menu that just appeared. Then, you need to move to the “View” tab, and from there, you should uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types” and hit “OK”. This will make the file extension of your AAC file appear on screen, allowing you to change it following our instructions from the beginning of this step. Mac users simply have to right-click on the AAC file in Finder, choose “Get Info” and then change the file's extension.

  7. Now that we've dealt with this tricky part, all we need to do is double-click on our file and, surprise – it automatically opens in iTunes, neatly nested within the “Tones” section. However, if by some chance the ringtone doesn't show up, it is probably because your “Tones” section isn't set to be active in iTunes. To make it appear, you have to go to “Edit->Preferences” in iTunes, and there you'll need to check “Tones” from the list of “Sources”.

  8. The only thing left to do is to sync iTunes with your iPhone, and your brand new, custom ringtone will appear as an option in your iOS device's Settings->Sounds->Ringtone menu. If it doesn't sync, that means you'll have to click on your iPhone in iTunes, go to the “Tones” tab and choose “Sync Tones”. This should do it.

Well, we told you it's not among the simplest of processes, but it's certainly doable! And now, you have your favorite song set as a ringtone on your iPhone – we don't know why this should sound like such a big deal, but nothing is perfect, you know, including the world of the ubiquitous iTunes sync.

Related phones

iPhone 4s
  • Display 3.5" 640 x 960 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 0.3 MP VGA front
  • Processor Apple A5, Dual-core, 800 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB



1. exf5003

Posts: 3; Member since: Nov 15, 2011

hahaha wow, f that. Such a simple process gone wrong

2. bubba78

Posts: 57; Member since: May 23, 2011

An easier way is to go to makeownringtone. com. Its free, and you can have the song normalized so it doesnt play to loud, and fade in and out. Then you can have it export the song as a m4r, or mp3.

5. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

yea this works too

3. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

Ohh if Steve Jobs was alive he would not stand for this. He would say there is no customizing an Apple product. It's my way & only my way. P.S. I am JOKING, it's good that people are finding ways to customize Apple products. We at the Android community take this for granted, but iOS users have been held back for quite some time. Also I hope I don't get moderated. lol

6. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

I got a laugh out of this.

15. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

That is good, that was my intention. Hopefully the good laugh helped you out during this very average Tuesday.

7. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

If Steve Jobs were alive this would be a feature on the iPhone5, and any apps that do the same thing would be removed from the app store.

11. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

no that is not how it works.

12. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

Oh, okay. Sorry. I thought that's what they did with Siri, I was only making a joke. Oh wait, that is what they did with Siri.

14. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

You know what, you are probably closer to reality than not. It sounds like something Apple would most definitely do. It’s not like Apple hasn’t done that before. Just like iamcc said, look at Siri.

16. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

What's funny, is I actually APPLAUD Steve Jobs/Apple for taking ideas that work as an app or whatever and incorporating it into their OS. What I absolutely cannot stand is that they do not give credit where it's due and they advertise these things as "revolutionary".

18. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

I think it's not just you, but a lot of people who feel exactly the way you do. Myself included! Apple does have a long list of exactly what you said.

23. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

You android fanboys never quit do you. Did you guys know the whole android OS was bought by google? Vso what's wrong with Apple LEGALLY purchasing a technology and incorporating into their OS. You guys twist everything to somehow be negative against Apple.

25. robinrisk unregistered

taco, did you read where it said "I actually applaud Steve jobs/Apple' on iamcc's post? There's nothing wrong with LEGALLY purchasing a technology and incorporating it in their OS. Whats wrong is to present it as an original and revolutionary idea that they came up with.

52. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Wait iammcc and robinrisk are the same person!! Two troll accounts to thumb yourself up I see.

54. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

I don't need two accounts... enough people agree with me as it is. You on the other hand...

34. SuperAndroidEvo

Posts: 4888; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

We know Android was bought by Google, but Google never claimed that they "invented" it or advertised it as "REVOLUTIONARY"! Do you see the difference.

19. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Oh look a fanboy is trolling

46. bigboy029

Posts: 74; Member since: Jan 03, 2011

wooooah settle down....

47. Jango_Fred

Posts: 58; Member since: Dec 17, 2008

Wow...what is the phrase?..."Pot calling the kettle black"?

31. GoodFella

Posts: 112; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Why I don\'t think a lot of people with Android take it for granted. I moved over to Android for the very reason I could NOT customize my iPhone.

4. iKingTrust

Posts: 716; Member since: Jul 27, 2011

I just use iringtone. much easier than this

8. ilia1986 unregistered

One does not simply customize the iPhone

9. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

I think Apple should address this in the next update. This is waaaaay too complicated for the general public to do on their own.

20. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I've been using this for a while. This is not Apple meant for the consumer to use. People just figured it out. Aren't you the same person that complains simple is bad.

27. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

Wrong as usual. I never said simple was bad, I said iOS is too simple of an OS for me. It's fine if that what you want, but I am a creative person so customization appeals to me more. That's fine that you have been using this for a while, but are you arguing with me because you think complicating the process of making custome ringtones are better? Wouldn't simplifying this process only enhance the ease of use? Or are you just arguing with me because you simply have to dispute everything I say?

32. Whateverman

Posts: 3295; Member since: May 17, 2009

I wonder who gave me that thumb down??? Lol!

37. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

im going to go with your last sentence. lol we could agree with taco, and he would still come out swinging with his eyes closed.

10. pourguoin

Posts: 5; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

...?... you mean you CAN\'T simply pick any song of your phone library and choose the \"use as a ringtone\" command?...don\'t wanna start a iOS vs Android debate here but.....

21. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Then don't.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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