Tip: How to make your own custom iPhone ringtones in iTunes

Interested in how to make your own custom ringtones for iPhone? Ever since Apple opened the door, it's been the popular thing to do. From soothing classics to to the latest hip hop tunes, you can setup the music you want for the contact you want, always know who's calling you before you answer, and -- depending on just what music you choose -- turn a few heads while doing it. petey28 from our forums will show you how after the break!

Before you start, make sure you have a recent version of iTunes installed. The latest is always best.

  • Select the Song you want as your ringtone and choose edit from the menu. (This procedure is similar for both Mac and Windows users. In iTunes, select the song you want to use, right-click on the track and hit 'get info')
  • Select 'Options' from the menu along the top, then change the 'stop time' of the song to 15 seconds (I recommend using 30 secs) as its the max time available for the ring tone).
  • In the advanced iTunes menu, select 'create AAC version'. This will create a second version of the song.
  • Go back into the original song’s 'get info' options and delete your 'stop time' setting, otherwise the song will end after 30 secs.

Mac Users

  • Right-click on the new, 30-second version and hit 'show in 'finder'
  • Change the file extension from .m4a to .m4r. (This can be done just by clicking on it and overtyping whats already there.)
  • It's best to make the file name as short as possible too, so rename this in the same way.
  • Drag the .m4r file from Finder to your desktop and delete the version that is in iTunes.
  • Now import the file back into iTunes. To do this, open the iTunes 'File' menu and choose' Add to Library,' find the song on your desktop and add it back in.

Windows Users

For Windows users -now you have the AAC version of the song, you need to find it on your computer. You'll probably have to take this path to the file - my documents, my Music, iTunes, iTunes Media, music and lastly the artist’s folder. When you've found it:

  • Change the file extension from .m4a to .m4r by clicking on it and overtyping the name.
  • If you can’t find the file extension type then you need to change how you view the file
    • go to your control panel and click 'folder options'
    • untick the option that says 'hide extensions for known file types'
    • Go back into the iTunes folder and you now you'll be able to see the extension you want to change.
  • Import the renamed file back into iTunes through the 'add to library' option under file menu.

Getting the ringtone onto your phone

  • Plug your iPhone into your Mac or Windows PC
  • Wait for your iPhone to become available in iTunes
  • Find your newly made ringtone file under the 'ringtones' category in the left hand column within iTunes.
  • Enable ringtone sync and make sure your newly made ringtone is checked off
  • Hit sync

Turning on your new ringtone

OK now for the the best bit:

  • On your phone go to settings, then sounds and your very own ringtones created by you should appear just above the standard ones
  • Tap it to select it as your default ringtone
  • If you want to use it for just a few of your contacts, go to Phone, Contacts
    • Find the contact(s) you want to use it for
    • Hit edit
    • Repeat the procedure above to select the rington
  • Enjoy!

Thanks again to petey28 for the tip! If only Apple would let us customize text tones as well...

As always, if you try it out let us know how it works for you!

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

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Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

Tip: How to make your own custom iPhone ringtones in iTunes


On a Mac, using GarageBand to make ringtones allows you to fade in/out so it's less abrupt. You can even export the project to a ringtone straight from the app.

On PC there's a software called iRinger and it transfer the ringtones stright to ITunes. Great software I been using it for 2 years...

Windows user:
after creating the acc version of the song just drag it to the desktop, change the extension to m4r and then drag it again to iTunes music/movies/app etc box in the upper left corner.

Exactly, definitely the easiest way for a mac user. if you have iTunes open already, just open up garage band and drag the song from the iTunes window to the garage band window.
Its a little complicated here but fully featured audio editor. The basic details are simply to just select the "tracks' that are not the song and go "Edit>Delete Track". Now if you push the loop button on the bottom of the application you will be presented with a small yellow bar. Drag this and extend it to the length you want over the part you want of the song - making sure to keep it under 45 seconds (or it will tell you).
Then just go share and ringtone to itunes is an option!
Definitely the easiest as well as most fully featured.

Agree with @APimpNamedGoldy.
Audacity is free, allows you to select the portion of the song(s) you like via visible waveform, and add smooth transitions and fades so the ringtone is not abrupt as @iSkythe pointed out.

OneOfDaKine says:
November 11, 2010 at 2:22 pm
On PC there’s a software called iRinger and it transfer the ringtones stright to ITunes. Great software I been using it for 2 years…
This. and it's free

I don't see an option in the advanced setting to 'create AAC version’. Only "create Mp3 version" option. What do I do?

@Mallory5864, I had the same issue. You have to go into preferences/general and press the 'import settings' button near center of page and change 'Import using' setting to AAC Encoder. You should have the Convert to AAC option after that.

I wasn't able to get the ringtones category on the left side. And the ringtone did not show up on the ring tones...help

I had this same problem and it was driving me crazy - I could follow all the steps noted above with the exception of finding this elusive "Ringtone Folder". Finally, I stumbled upon the solution after losing most of the little hair I still had.
Here's the fix:
In iTunes - go to: Edit > Preferences > General. By default, you should arrive on this tab. If you don't, select it.
Under "Sources", make sure there is a check mark next to the "Ringtones" option (when I arrived here, it was not selected).
Click OK and you should be good to go.

I tried this but it did not work. I made the ringtone OK and synced with my phone but it doesn't show on my phone

in my itunes there is no category of 'ringtone', i followed the step, and converted the file to m4r, and synced the said file to my iphone (as there is no category of ringtone in my itunes), when i launched setting, and select sound and then ringtone, there is only standard ringtone available. thks

Very dangerous last step. Synch ringtones. I get message this synch will wipe out all music videos movies from you iphone. I discover that the reason why Im getting this message is the simple act of clicking synch ringtones will override all my settings. The key is in the Summary page of itunes for the device.

After searching for awhile found on the answer

On my summary page of itunes I have manually sync checked off. Attempting to synch ringtones would override that with unpredictable effects such as might start synching immediately and wipe out or might let me just synch ringtones or might let me select only checked ringtones. As a result just dragged and dropped ringtones if have manually synched checked off. Rest above works.