How to: Make your own iPhone ringtones

A step-by-step guide to creating free iPhone ringtones

Apple lets you create customised ringtones for your iPhone; just right-click on any song you've purchased through the iTunes Store and select "Create Ringtone." You can even download ready-made ringtones through the iPhone's own iTunes Store app. Then again, who wants to pay $2.19 for 30 seconds of music?

Here is how to make your own ringtone using music you already own.

1: Choose a song

It's a bit of a no-brainer, but don't forget that you (and everyone around you) will be listening to your ringtone every time you get a call. The Miley Cyrus cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" might be funny the first time around, but it will become annoying and downright embarrassing shortly after.

iTunes Song Options

2: Shorten your ringtone

iPhone ringtones have a maximum length of 40 seconds, so you will have to choose a snippet of the song you wish to use; a chorus or intro is usually best. Thankfully, you can do this in iTunes 8 or later.

Simply right-click on the song you have chosen and click "Get Info." In the pop-up window, go to the "Options" tab. Enter the starting point of your snippet in the "Start Time" field and the end in the "Stop Time" field. This is measured in minutes, second and milliseconds, so you'll need to play the song a few times to get the right snippet. Once finished, just hit enter. If you play the song again, the start and end times won't make a difference; that comes next.

Audio editing software like Garage Band for MacOS X or Audacity for Windows makes it easier to edit songs, and allow you to add effects like fades in order to get a smoother ringtone.

3: Convert your ringtone

Chances are your song is an MP3 file, which the iPhone won't recognise as a ringtone. You'll need to first convert the song to iTunes' preferred format, AAC.

First, make sure iTunes is configured to convert to AAC by going to Preferences (iTunes > Preferences in MacOS X or Edit > Preferences on Windows) and click the button "Import Settings" in the General tab. Make sure it says "AAC Encoder" next to "Import Using." You can set the quality to, though for a ringtone this won't make much of a difference.

Hit OK twice, right-click on your chosen song and hit "Create AAC Version." iTunes will then convert your song into an AAC file with the new start and stop times. The converted version will appear in iTunes once completed.

Renaming a file extension

4: Rename your ringtone

iPhone ringtones are AAC files that have the ".m4r" extension instead of the usual ".m4a" file name that AAC songs have. To rename your song, right-click on the newly converted ringtone in iTunes, and click on "Show in Finder" if using MacOS X or "Show in Explorer" on Windows. iTunes will show you where it has stored the converted version of your song; usually in the application's default media location.

Click on the song in Finder or Windows Explorer and change the file extension to ".m4r". Windows users might first need to disable the "Hide extensions for known file types" option in the Control Panel's folder options.

5: Add to iTunes

Once you've renamed the file extension, drop it back into iTunes. It will now appear in the Ringtones section of your music library. From here, you can sync or drag and drop the ringtone onto a connected iPhone. Once the sync is completed, just head to the sound settings on your iPhone, Ringtones, and then choose your newly created ringtone.

Repeat these steps for as many ringtones as you want; this way, you can have a new one every day!

Update: One our readers pointed out that there's a "Send Ringtone to iTunes" under the Share Menu in GarageBand. This eliminates the need for steps 3, 4 and 5 if you already own Apple's basic recording software.

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