Daily Tip: How to change your iPhone text message notification tone

New to the iPhone and curious how to change your text message (SMS) tone? Apple is not overly generous when it comes to customizing alert tones on your iPhone. Ring tones are completely customizable but email tones can't be changed from the default unless you jailbreak. Text messages are somewhere in the middle -- you can personalize them but not customize them (yet). Read on after the break to find out how!.

Changing the default SMS/Text tone

To change the tone you hear for all incoming texts:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Tap Sounds
  3. Tap Text Tone
  4. Choose new tone (A preview of the tone will play when tapped)

That’s all there is to it. All new text messages will trigger the new tone when they arrive.

Changing an individual contact's SMS/Text tone

To set a personalized SMS/Text tone for an individual contact:

  1. Launch the Contacts app (or Phone app and choose the Contacts tab)
  2. Scroll to the contact you want to personalize
  3. Tap on their name to bring up their contact page
  4. Tap edit
  5. Tap on Text Tone
  6. Choose a new toneios_42_iphone_text_tone

Now, when that specific contact texts you, you'll get their specific tone. It's a great way to differentiate family from friends, for example.

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UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

Daily Tip: How to change your iPhone text message notification tone


This is precisely why I jailbroke my phone.
My Motorola Q had custom sounds for text messages like 10 years ago...

Nice tip. The iPhone includes so many undocumented features, that it's good to see simple how-to's like this. This will benefit all of the new Verizon users especially.

The new text tones are too long. They should use tri-tone as the benchmark and make no text alerts longer than that.

I just want custom alert messages, maybe a different one for each calendar, as I am sick of having to check my phone when someone else's calendar alert or mail alert goes off in our cube farm 8(

Ok, I'm completely new to the whole iPhone scene, but I have jailbroken mine and I want to know how I add custom tones now

lame tip i no how to do this i need some style in my txt tones i look like a fag with the gay ones apple stuck me with

i totally agree the apple tones im forced to choose from make me look gay as f**k. do they think people who buy the iphone are all sheep who want to be clones of each other?

I agree, just like everyone who has a Samsung TV instead of the TV you have are sheeple too. Having the same TV as you makes us so much cooler =D