How to make your own iPhone ringtones

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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon

If the back of teen music magazines are to be trusted then we can safely assume that mobile phone ringtones are big business, and, if you were the new kid on the block selling mobile phones, like Apple, you'd be crazy not to charge a motza for these audio snippets.

This doesn't mean we should have to pay for them. After paying higher than average prices for iPhone contracts, are you really about to fork out more money for 15-second clips of your favourite songs? We don't think this is fair and to right this injustice we show you how to make your very own iPhone ringtones for free. All you'll need is an iPhone (of course), iTunes and a swag of MP3 files.

  1. Open iTunes and select your favourite MP3 audio file.
  2. Right-click (Cmd-click for Macs) on this file in your library to bring up the context menu.
  3. Select Get Info

    This will open a new dialogue box showing various details about the audio file. Select the Options tab.

  4. Check the boxes next to both Start Time and Stop Time and enter the times you want your new ringtone to start and stop (the maximum length is 40 seconds) then click OK.

    This will return you to your music library.

  5. Right-click (Cmd-click) on the same music file again and this time select Convert Selection to AAC.

    iTunes will process this briefly and insert the new ringtone-sized file under the original file in your library.

  6. Right-click (Cmd-click) on the newly created file and select: "Show in Windows Explorer (or Finder on a Mac)"

A new dialogue box will open showing you the location of this file. Select the file and rename it, changing the file extension from ".m4a" to ".m4r". Windows will warn you that this change may make the file unstable, but continue anyway.

Back in iTunes, delete the ringtone file you've created from your library, then import the renamed ".m4r" file into your library. Connect your iPhone and sync your playlist. You may have to manually drag the .m4r file into the Ringtones section on your iPhone. With your iPhone synced this file is now ready to be used as a ringtone.

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AlenH posted a comment   

or if you cant find add to all you do is pick up the file from the tones and on the left it should say device with your name device you place it in there and wait 5-10seconds not even that long depends how fast your iphone is and your done :)


stupido posted a comment   

At first it didn't work for me. For one, drag and drop did not work. I had to import the m4r file using "add file to library" from the drop down menu in the top left corner of itunes. Next I had to click on the iphone button under the search field. Then click Tones-Sync Tones-Selected tones and select the tone I wanted to sync. Then when I synced that, I lost all my music. Had to select sync music from the Music tab next to Tones.

PITA to work it out. Hope that saves someone the bother.

Win 7, Iphone 3, itunes 4.2


stupido posted a reply   

Oops. Iphone 3, OS 4.2, Itunes


BruceR posted a comment   

Yep this works!!! I have just prchased an iPhone 5 and used this method to create my own ringtones. Thanks for the awsome tip.

Bruce Ritchie


GuerbyB posted a comment   

I did everything, but I don't see where to drag the file into Ringtone section of my iphone


BruceR posted a reply   

Hey GuerbyB I'm using the latest version of iTunes ( and this method does work. Try this after you have done the conversion to m4r and copied to desk top.
1 When you drag the m4r file from your desk top into iTunes,
2 select Ringtones from the drop down box (defult is 'Music'),
3 then select your iPhone from the left side of the Tool Bar.
4 Itunes defaults to displaying my music content (on my Phone) but may display 'System' info, what ever it shows just click the 'Done' button on the extreme left of the window.
5 Hope you are still with me.... we're almost done. Below the 'Done' button you should see an icon titled 'Add To' (iPhone). Click the icon and drag the m4r file to your iPhone.
6 Go to 'Sounds' on your phone (in Settings) and your new Ringtone should be there.




JustinC1 posted a reply   

hi BruceR,

how does one change the file from m4a to m4r? i tried going through the properties area, i can't rename to an m4r because m4a is not actually listed on the file name.


AlenH posted a reply   

thanks finally someone smart with technology! ;)


MichaelT5 posted a comment   

If you're finding all this too complex...

Download the Vocalerts app on the iphone.
(link: )

It does all this in a much easier manner and it's basically idiot proof. You can also use your music directly from your ipod library as ring tones (but without all the fuss and hassles of manually doing the method in this article)

As well as record your own tones. Simple!

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