How to create custom notification tones in iOS 5

Users of iOS 5 for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices can create free custom notification tones

Apple's latest iOS 5 operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices went live last week and one of its new features is custom notification tones. Apple's software previously enabled custom ringtones, but not custom notification tones.

iOS 5 users can now set custom notification tones for SMS, e-mail, voicemail, Twitter, calendar and reminder sounds. Officially, Apple wants you to buy these tones: a "buy more tones" link is embedded into the sound settings, directing you to a customised alert tone store that sells ringtones for $2.19 and alert tones for $1.19. However, just like custom ringtones, users of iOS 5 can also create custom notification tones, too. Here's how.

iOS 5
Apple's "Tones" Store: Ringtones are priced at $2.19 and alert tones cost $1.19.

1. Open iTunes and select the track you want to convert to a notification tone. A good resource for free message tones and sound effects is Zedge.

2. Right-click on the track and click "Get info". This will open the properties page for that particular track.

3. Click on the "Options" tab. Check the "Start time" and "End time" boxes and enter the portion of the track you want to create as a ringtone. Keep in mind the length of the tone needs to be 30 seconds or less, otherwise it will not play. For notification tones, we recommend no more than five seconds, unless you want to hear a 30 second sound each time you get a message or e-mail. Press OK once you're done to close the properties page.

4. Right-click on the track again and click "Create AAC version". iTunes will create a second version of the track you edited.

5. For Mac users: Right-click on the new track and click "Show in finder". For Windows users: Right-click on the new track and click "Show in Windows Explorer".

6. Once Finder (Mac) or Windows Explorer (Windows) opens, rename the file extension you created from .m4a to .m4r. This is the file standard Apple uses for ringtones and notification tones.

7. Go back into iTunes. Select the file you created, right-click on it and select "Delete". Click "Remove" to confirm and when prompted click "Keep file". This will remove the track from iTunes, but keep the actual file you created.

8. Go back to Finder (Mac) or Windows Explorer (Windows) and double-click the .m4r track you created. This will add it to iTunes as a ringtone.

9. Sync your iPhone through iTunes and the tone will appear in the sounds menu on your iPhone. That's it!

UPDATE: If you get the ""Create MP3" option instead of the AAC one when you right-click a track, follow these instructions:

1. Open iTunes

2. Click Edit in the menu bar and then click "Preferences".

3. Scroll down to where it says "When you insert a CD" and click "Import Settings" on the right.

4. Click the drop down box next to where it says "Import using" and select "AAC Encoder". Click OK.

Now when you right-click on a track in your music library you should get the "Create AAC version".

Apple has also introduced custom vibration patterns in iOS 5. To turn these on go to the settings menu on your iPhone, tap "General" then "Accessibility. Scroll down to "Custom vibrations" and turn this on.

iOS 5
Apple's custom vibration settings in iOS 5.

Once you've turned them on, go back to the sounds menu in settings. Scroll down to "Vibration" and you can select from five presets: alert, heartbeat, rapid, S.O.S and symphony. You can also create a new vibration pattern in the menu below by tapping on the screen.

Tags Apple iPhone 4SAppleApple iPhone 4mobile phonesiPhonesmartphonesiOS 5

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

PC World




I've hated Apple (not the phone) since I got my iPhone4 because I couldn't set my own message alert tone. Now, with iOS 5, I've got my own message tone and ringtone by following these instructions. Thanks.
Now I love Apple!



What if i don't get the Create AACC version, instead Create MP3 version appears



RE: Ana and getting MP3 option instead of AAC

That has to do with your CD import settings. If you change your import settings from importing as MP3 to importing as AAC you'll have the option in your right-click menu. At least, that's how it used to be, not sure if it's still the same in iTunes.



I bought a ringtone via iTunes on my Mac and downloaded it. I can't get the 4S to find it. I got the same situation as Ana's, there's no option of creating an AAC version, just the "create MP3" option......hmmmm.



Created the AAC version but how to I convert it to a .m4r file

Ross Catanzariti



Hi miek,

You need to rename the file extension from .m4a to .m4r.



Worked perfectly, Finally Appleproducts dont feel so rapy in the bumhole anymore.



I did everything as described in above 9 steps for 7 times, but the ringtone doesn't appear in "Sounds" menu. iPhone 4 iOS5 please help !!! :(((



I get create Apple Lossless version



I have all my ringtones under "settings" then "sounds". I have the 3GS with the IOS5 update. Now it doesn't have the "edit" button on a contact. So, how to I give that contact their ringtone?



I don't get how to "rename the file extension"!!!! I go to rename the file and put .m4r on the end, but it's still an .m4a file... gah. What the heck do I do?!



@Liz - You need to make sure that known file types aren't hidden. Google "hide extensions for known file types" and find instructions for your operating system. Basically each file you are looking at should have songname.m4a (if it is just the song name, that means the file type is hidden). You need to make it so they are not hidden and then change the file type to .m4r

Mike T


How can I set the custom vibration that I have created to work with calendar alerts? Mine only works with incoming phone calls.



I have done this and the new file appears on my iPhone in my ring tones but not in my text tones?

What am I missing?



i create a new ringtone , now how can i make it sms/message tone?



Finally I can change notification tone!!! That is why I chose to jailbreak my 3g before. Now I don't have to for my 4s! great article!



Hey did that
Worked for ringtone
but i could not find the tones under txt tones?



Thanks, this worked perfectly!



I have the same problem as Woodster, it appears in my ringtones but not text tones. Can anyone help? It is driving me crazy.



I have the same problem as Woodster and Nicole. I can make long ringtones but my 1second textones don't appear in my phone after I sync my phone.



I purchased two ringtones from the app store and I can't figure out how to use them. They appear in my library on the iphone and not under my ringtones.



i did all the steps and nothing is showing up in my "sounds" menu :(



I have tried this at least 6 times with different tones and nothing shows up on my phone. If I do get it to work I also want the tone in my text notification.

Help please.



it doesnt work, it wont show up in m sounds. what do i do?



This does not work! I have tried a million times and still nothing. I cant change the title of the song from mp3 to m4r. iTunes wont add my song from drag and drop and I cant put it in Tones. I have followed your instructions 100% and i have got nowhere. I use Windows 7 64.

I wont work for me.



Thanks so much this worked great by dragging and dropping from tones in itunes library to tones in my iphone




Adam G


I got the tone to get onto my iPhone. I can go into sounds and select the tone; when I click on it, I can hear it, and it seems to work for most events like receiving email or other notifications. But when I set it for receiving texts, I will hear no sound nor will it even vibrate. I've tried altering a bunch of things, all the way back to making the files from scratch again; nothing seems to work.



good try, but doesn't work. renaming it "makes the file unusable" and therefore when I try to add it back into itunes, I can go into "add file" and find it and try to add it, but nothing happens.



Windows Users, I had the same problem. Found Made it easy. Upload file, click, Save as iPhone Ringtone. DONE.

Ben I


this is still absolutly ridiculous, why should we have to go through all that just to make a ringtone or message tone, and still most people cant get it to work.. hey apple.. heyy, hey apple. how about making all this shyt alot easier! like nokia phones maybe.

i still prefer a jailbreak to customize my iphone.

Chris Kelly


I've got the same problem-got the ringtone transfered to my iphone but I can't get it to show up in the ringtones/alerts section. Just shows up in the songs section. WTF Apple!



I can do this if the songs are import to the music library, but some files only import directly to the "Tones" folder which does not allow the "Creat AAC" OR "Create MP3" options.

Is there a way to bypass that import feature and force them to be stored in the Music Library?



Or if you have garage band (mac app) then you can just open garage band, add the song you want, cut it down to the portion of the song you want(command "T" makes cuts) ... click on "share" click "send ringtone to itunes" then its going to ask you to set the repeating section... just move the yellow bar at the top of the track to the section you have and click send... then it shows up in your ringtones folder on itunes just drag and drop it on ur phone.



okay the normal ringtones work for me, but what about the other alert ringtones , like sms ringotes or voicemail ringtones ??



my alert tone aint working how do i create an alert tone



There's one step missing!! In iTunes, select your device and then click on TONES at the top and make sure you select SYNC TONES.

I couldn't figure it out either, I had followed all the steps and the tones wouldn't show up in sounds until I did this. Now it works great.



Thanks a lot for posting such a great guide on How to create custom notification tones in iOS 5. This is very helpful for a newbie like me.



Okay its worked for ringtone, but how can I do it for sms tone? thanks



Hi - same question as for Jess #39. Everything done/works as described except I can only get the newly created tone into Ringtones on the iPhone - not into Alert Tones. So I bought an alert tone from iTunes to see the difference btwn ring and alert. The bought one appears in the Alert Tones section on the iPhone correctly. When I look in the itunes Tones library there is no visible difference between bought and created, but in the iPhone Tones library, the bought one has an exclamation mark in column 1. Any advice? Thanks

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