Do you want to make your favorite song or a custom sound ringtone for your iPhone? You’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive guide contains step-by-step instructions for two methods, both of which are free and will take you only a few minutes, if not less.
You are not required to use a song as a ringtone. You can use any sound you want as long as you have it saved as an audio file on your laptop or iPhone.
That sound could be a recording of your child, a ringtone you like, such as the one from the TV show 24, or something completely different.
It’s critical to understand that songs from Apple Music or other streaming services cannot be used because they are protected. You’ll need an audio file with no DRM (digital rights management). Downloading audio from a YouTube video is one of the simplest ways to obtain it.
We’ll assume in this article that you already have the song or sound ready to go. We’ll show you how to make it into a ringtone and then replace your iPhone’s current ringtone with the new one. The great thing about your creations is that you can use them as notification sounds for text messages or other purposes; they don’t have to be used solely as ringtones.
The first method makes use of your iPhone’s free GarageBand app, which is ideal if you only want to make a ringtone with your iPhone. To be more specific, scroll down to the second method, which employs iTunes on Windows or macOS.
Create an iPhone ringtone without using iTunes
1. Download and install GarageBand
If it isn’t already installed, go to your iPhone’s App Store and search for GarageBand. It’s free, but it takes up about 1.6GB of storage space. You should also ensure that the song you want to use as a ringtone is on your iPhone. There are several ways to accomplish this, ranging from syncing with iTunes to downloading in another app. You cannot use ‘protected’ songs, such as those from Apple Music; the song must not contain DRM (digital rights management).
2. Select an instrument of your choice
You can’t open a song in GarageBand because it’s designed for making songs, not ringtones.
After launching GarageBand, swipe to select an instrument. It makes no difference which one. We’ll use the first option on the list, which is the keyboard. To open it, tap on it.
3. Launch the Editor
You might want to try your hand at the keyboard. Proceed with caution. But that’s irrelevant here. It is only a shortcut to the editor, so tap the highlighted icon in the top-left corner.
4. Select the loop icon
To import the song you want to use as the ringtone, tap on the loop icon as shown.
5. Navigate to the Music tab
Again, GarageBand is designed to import loops rather than songs. But you can still pull it off. So, in the top right corner, tap on Music to see the songs that are already on your iPhone.
6. Locate your song
Tap on the songs.
7. Locate your song (part 2)
Scroll through the list, or tap on the first letter of any song on your iPhone. If you have downloaded podcasts, they will appear in this list as well, even if they are not songs.’
8. Open GarageBand and drag the song into it
You can play the song by tapping it, but you must tap and hold it to get it into the GarageBand editor. Place it in the second track from the bottom, not the keyboard track.
9. Cut the track
To set the start and end points of your ringtone, tap on the waveform and drag the yellow sliders. At the standard zoom level, this can be a little imprecise, but you can pinch it apart to zoom in and trim more precisely.
The same rules apply to the iTunes method: your tone must be less than 30 seconds long. (In fact, it can be up to 40 seconds long, but it must be less than 30 seconds long to be used as an alert notification or text tone.)
Because GarageBand isn’t designed for this, you can’t tell how long the selected audio is. If you think you’re accurate enough, time it with a stopwatch, watch, or another device, or by counting.
10. Save it as a song
Tap the down arrow (marked) at the top left and then My Songs. This saves the audio clip you just trimmed.
11. Save the song
When you tap and hold the song,’ a context menu will appear. Tap Share from here.
12 Keep your ringtone
Simply select Ringtone from the menu.
13. Customize your ringtone
Give your ringtone a name so you can identify it.
14 Make your song a ringtone
Tap after it has been exported. Make use of sound as…
15. Determine the tone
You should probably select Standard Ringtone from the options, but you can also use it as a Text Tone or assign it to a specific contact so you know who is calling. Of course, at this point, we’re still in GarageBand.
You can see your ringtone in the Settings app under Sounds and haptics and set it as a tone for other apps if you want, or choose it later if you change ringtones.
In iTunes, create an iPhone ringtone
This second method is not as convenient as using GarageBand on your iPhone, but it allows you to be much more specific about the audio section to be used as a ringtone.
1. Get your song ready
After deciding which song or audio to use, the first step is to import it into your computer’s iTunes library. It can’t be from Apple Music because you can’t convert Apple Music tracks to AAC because they’re copyrighted.
It is not necessary for the file to be a song. You could use your iPhone’s Voice Memos app to record real-world sounds or people’s voices for ringtones.
Simply ensure you have the most recent version of iTunes (download it from the Mac App Store or the Microsoft Store on Windows 10), then launch it by double-clicking its shortcut or searching for it in the Start menu.
Navigate to the file or folder to import by selecting File > Add File to Library or Add Folder to Library.
Click on the album in the Library that contains the song or audio file you want to use as a ringtone, then right-click on the song and select Song Info.
2. Determine timings
Click the Options tab in the new window that appears, and then check the Start and Stop boxes. Enter the times you want the ringtone to start and stop. There is no need to check the Start box if the song must begin at the beginning.
To determine which times to enter into these boxes, first, listen to the track and note the time you want it to begin. Because 30 seconds is the maximum length for a ringtone, the stop time must be within that time frame.
TIP: Use a decimal point if you want to be extremely precise about when your ringtone begins. For example, if the music section begins between 44 and 45 seconds, enter 0:44.5 in the Start Time box. You can even enter the start and stop times in thousandths of a second, such as 0:44.652.
When you’ve determined the start and end times, click OK to close the window.
3. Make an AAC version
- Select the song once more by clicking on it. Then, from the File menu, select Convert, and then Create the AAC version. (The fix is in step 3a if you see ‘Create MP3 version’ or something else.)
- iTunes will save just the section of the song between the start and stop times you specified as a new track in your Library.
- If your song has album and artist tags, the new, short track will appear as a duplicate track in the same album. It can be identified by its duration, which is shown to the right.
- If the album, artist, and song information are missing, it will appear in your Library as a new album with a single song.
- AAC Encoder 3a
- If you didn’t see a Create AAC version option in step 3, it’s because your CD rip settings are incorrect. To change this, go to the Edit menu and select Preferences…
- Now, next to ‘When you insert a CD,’ click Import Settings… and select AAC Encoder from the drop-down menu next to ‘Import using:’.
4. Reset the start and stop times
As a matter of procedure, right-click on the original album containing the song. Click Song Info, then the Options tab.
Uncheck the start and stop times to return them to their default values, then click OK.
Otherwise, when you play that track again, it will only play the section between your start and stop times. You most likely do not want that to happen.
5. Locate the new AAC file
Navigate to the duplicate track (or duplicate album containing the newly created track) you want to use as a ringtone.
Show in Windows Explorer by right-clicking on the song in the album. On a Mac, this option is known as Show in Finder.
This is so you can change the file’s extension (to make it a ringtone), which we’ll do next.
6. Modify the file extension
The file should now be highlighted in the window that appears and named something.
m4a (where something refers to the title of your song.
If you don’t see the.m4a extension (i.e. you only see ‘ikson day off and not ‘ikson day off.m4a’), it’s because Windows is configured to hide extensions. This is how to display the file extension for editing.
When you see the m4a section, right-click on the file and select Rename. Change the extension from.m4a to.m4r and then press Return, Enter, or simply click in some white space.
The process is very similar on a Mac, and you’ll see a warning asking if you’re sure you want to change the extension on both Windows and macOS. On Windows, select Yes, and on Mac, select ‘Use.m4r’.
When prompted to change the extension, select Yes.
NOTE: Because this is a common mistake, please be aware that you cannot simply add.m4r when renaming the file. If the file extensions in Windows are hidden, all you’re doing is changing ‘ikson day off.m4a’ to ‘ikson day off.m4r.m4a’.
This is not going to work!
7. Ringtone import and synchronization
Apple removed the App Store and another bloat from iTunes in version 12.7, including Tones, which was where you could easily see all your ringtones.
However, you can still use the latest version of iTunes to sync your new ringtones to your iPhone.
- Connect your iPhone to your laptop or computer using the Lightning cable. When the ‘Trust this computer prompt appears on your iPhone screen if you’re using Windows 10, tap it. If this message does not appear, you may need to unplug and re-plug the USB cable, unless you have done so previously.
- Enter your phone’s passcode to confirm that you trust the computer, then wait for your phone icon to appear in iTunes. This can take a few minutes at times.
- You may receive a message in iTunes asking if you want to allow this computer to access information on “Xxxx’s iPhone.” So, to grant this access, click the Continue button.
- Look in the left-hand column under Devices for your phone. When you click on it, the list should expand to include a Tones section. When you click on that, any custom tones you have will appear on the right (if you don’t have any, the list will be empty).
- Return to your File Explorer window – or Finder on a Mac – and make sure your ringtone is still highlighted (or refer to the Find the File step earlier). If it isn’t already selected, click on it to make it so.
- To copy the file, press Ctrl+C on your keyboard or Command+C on a Mac.
- Return to iTunes, select Tones if it isn’t already selected, and press Ctrl+V (Command+V on Mac) to paste the tone.
- The tone should appear in the list of tones and automatically sync to your iPhone within a few seconds.
- Please keep in mind that you can no longer drag and drop tones from an Explorer window into iTunes.
- Users of Macs: Ringtones do not always appear in the Tones section. There are two options here:
- Delete the ringtone song entry from your iTunes Music library (but do not delete the actual file on your hard drive; instead, choose to keep it when prompted). Then, in Finder, double-click the.m4r file, and it should appear in Tones.
- If that does not work, try moving the.m4r file to a location other than your iTunes folder on your hard drive (such as to the desktop). Then click it twice.
8. Remove the ringtone from the library
You don’t have to remove the new AAC version of the song from your iTunes music library, but you should.
That’s because making a lot of ringtones gets messy. It’s also perplexing to have single-track albums that won’t play (due to the extension change) and aren’t even the full song.
9. Replace your current ringtone with the new one you just made
Now that you have the new tone on your phone, all you have to do is set it as your ringtone.
To do so, launch the Settings app on your iPhone and navigate to Sounds (also known as Sounds & Haptics), then Ringtone.
Your custom tones will appear above the default Ringtones at the top of the list. Simply tap on one to set it as your ringtone.
The fun doesn’t stop there; you can also use your custom tones for text message alerts – or anything else…
10. Make use of your ringtone as a notification tone
It’s the same process as creating a ringtone for text messages, tweets, Facebook posts, new voicemails, reminder alerts, or anything else.
The only difference is that on your iPhone, you’ll need to navigate to the appropriate section under ‘Sounds & Haptics.’
Simply tap on the desired type, such as Text Tone, to access the Alert Tones list.
Scroll down past these to find your Ringtones list. Your custom tones will be at the top of this section once more.
However, using a 30-second song as a text message alert is not a good idea. In case you’re wondering, there’s no distinction in iTunes between a’song’ and a sound effect, so you don’t have to use a portion of a song from your music library as your custom alert tone.
All you need is a sound effect in an iTunes-compatible format (usually MP3), and it will be treated like any other song. Then, just like with a ringtone, repeat the process to create and sync the sound effect to your iPhone, then select it as shown.