Create free iPhone Ringtones using iTunes

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Being able to choose your own ringtone on your phone is something that should be pretty easy, but not on the iPhone. Apple say that you can buy your ringtones through iTunes, but I’ve never found any on there. So how do you get round this? How do you get your own ringtone on your iPhone?

Its actually pretty simple, and even more importantly its free and legal! All you need to create your own ringtones is iTunes on a PC or Mac and a song in either MP3 or AAC format that is DRM free. DRM files are normally songs that have been purchased online from places such as the iTunes Store, or imported to your computer using Windows Media Player.

Change your Import settings to use AAC

Change your Import settings to use AAC

Before you start, you need to check some settings in iTunes. In the Preferences window, click on “Import Settings” on the General Tab and make sure that “import using” is set to AAC Encoder.

On a PC make sure you can see hiden files

On a PC make sure you can see hiden files

If you’re on a PC, you’ll need to make sure that you can view file extensions (music files should show .mp3 or .m4a after the filename). If your PC doesn’t, you can change this by opening your “My Documents” folder, and clicking Tools-> Folder Options. On the “View” tab, you should see an option “Hide extensions for known file types,” Make sure that the box next to this is not ticked, and then hit ok.

On the 'Get Info' screen, set your start and stop times

On the 'Get Info' screen, set your start and stop times

Right, now for the fun bit. Find the song you want as your ringtone and play it in iTunes. iPhone ringtones can be a maximum of 30 seconds long, so you’ll need to know the start and end points for the song clip that you want to use, so play the song, and write down how many seconds there are to the part of the song you want as your ringtone. You’ll need the end time too, but this can only be a maximum of 30 seconds.

By now, you should have the start and end points of your ringtone. Right click on the song in iTunes, and select “Get Info”

When the iTunes preferences window opens, you will see 7 tabs across the top, click on the options tab. You’ll see there is a space to enter start and stop times. Put in the times you wrote down earlier and make sure that both boxes are ticked – then hit “OK”.

UPDATE: Thanks to Dean and Snatch for pointing out that you need to ensure that you use : to seperate minutes and seconds, and not a full stop!

Right Click and select 'Create AAC Version'

Right Click and select 'Create AAC Version'

Right click your song again, and this time select create AAC version (or similar.)

Update: iTunes 9.1 has moved this option from the right click menu – instead, you’ll need to click on ‘Advanced’ in the menu bar and select Create AAC Version

Create AAC has moved in iTunes 9.1

Create AAC has moved in iTunes 9.1

You should then see a second copy of the song appear in your iTunes music library. In order to change it to a ringtone you’ll need to drag this file to your desktop. You can then delete the 30 second version from iTunes and un tick the start and stop times on the original song.

Rename file extension from .m4a to .m4r

Rename file extension from .m4a to .m4r

Go to the file on your desktop and you should see its called “songname.m4a”. Right click it and choose “rename,” all we want to change here is the .m4a to .m4r. You can rename this song if you want, but the filename must end .m4r

Double click the file on your desktop to add it to your ringtones library

Double click the file on your desktop to add it to your ringtones library

That’s it! All you need to do now is double click the file to add it back to iTunes. If you click on the Ringtones link in the side panel, it should now be listed as a ringtone rather than a music file.

Sync your iPhone with iTunes to transfer the ringtone to your phone

Sync your iPhone with iTunes to transfer the ringtone to your phone

All that is left is to sync your iPhone with your computer. If it doesn’t sync over straight away, make sure the “Sync ringtones” option is selected when your phone is connected.

If you find that the ringtone is showing in the ringtones section of iTunes but isn’t syncing to your phone plug your iPhone in and go to the options screen. Uncheck the ‘Sync Ringtones’ box, hit apply and then sync your phone. Once it’s finished, disconnect and reconnect your phone. Go back to the options screen and re-check the ‘Sync Ringtones’ box and sync again. This resets the sync information in iTunes and your phone and your ringtones should now show up on your phone.

Give it a try and let me know how you get on – Got any great ringtones that you want to share with the world? Leave your comments below with the Song title and start/end times and share your creations!

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104 responses to “Create free iPhone Ringtones using iTunes

  1. Help Please

    I downloaded the latest verision of iTunes today and when I right click on the song it is not giving me the option to create aac.

  2. Hi, I’ve just updated my version of iTunes and I’m not getting the option either! Nice one Apple.. I’ll keep looking, see if there’s a work around.
    Andy

  3. All sorted – the option has moved to the advanced menu in the title bar. I’ve updated the guide to reflect this.

    Andy

  4. Thank you so much. You are awesome!

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