Make Your Own Custom iPhone Ringtone For Free

Aug 8, 2009 - 104 Comments

iTunes

The iPhone, iPhone accessories, and iPhone ringtones are all the rage right now, so why not make your own iPhone ringtone? With a Mac or Windows PC it’s pretty straightforward using iTunes, follow these 10 steps and you can easily create your own iPhone Ringtone from whatever song you want. Note that songs with DRM will not usually work, meaning things purchased from the iTunes Music Store will probably not be able to turn into ringtones if they have DRM protection.

10 Easy Steps to Make your own Custom iPhone Ringtone for Free

1: Launch iTunes

2: Find the song that you want to use for your iPhone ringtone, make note of the start and stop times of what you want to be the actual ringtone (the chorus, or whatever).

3: Control-click (Mac) or Right-click (Windows) the song you chose and select ‘Get Info’

4: Click the ‘Options’ tab and set the start and stop time of your ringtone in the settings below. Keep the selection at 30 seconds or less. Click ‘OK’ – Note: I suggest making a backup copy of the song so you don’t accidentally shorten the song itself.

5: Control-click (Mac) or Right-click (Windows) the song again and select ‘Convert Selection to AAC’ and iTunes will convert the song as another copy in the AAC format.

6: Now Control-Click or Right-click the ringtone and select ‘Delete’ making sure to click on the “Keep Files” button

7: Locate the file you just created. Typically located in your home directory under Music > iTunes > iTunes Music and then under the band’s name, the file you’re looking for will have an m4a extension

8: Now replace the ‘m4a’ extension of the ringtone file with “m4r” , so if the file is named MrRoboto.m4a the new file will be called MrRoboto.m4r – you’ll get a warning about changing the file extension time but click “OK”

9: Double click to open the ringtone file you just renamed. iTunes will automatically add this new ringtone to the Ringtones folder within the application

10: Finally, connect your iPhone and sync your new ringtone! You can then select it as any other iPhone ringtone via your iPhone settings.

This method will work in iTunes under Windows or Mac OS X!

It’s critical to remember that in order for the iPhone ringtone to work, it must have the proper iPhone ringtone extension of “.m4r” in use and appended to the filename. Without the file being an .m4r, iTunes and the iPhone will not recognize the file as a ringtone, and the file will not appear in the iTunes “Tones” folder for transferring to your phone.

Update: If you have upgraded to iTunes 9.1 or later and you are having problems, you will need to make some changes to the preferences in order to convert songs to m4a ringtone format in iTunes 9.1. Other than the import settings adjustment to iTunes Preferences, the process is practically identical. You will still need to create an .m4a file then rename the extension to .m4r for iTunes to recognize it as a ringtone.

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Posted by: William Pearson in iPhone, Tips & Tricks

104 Comments

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  1. [...] This post was Twitted by blingtonez [...]

  2. Kristin says:

    I tried following these instructions and everything worked great up until step 9. I double clicked on the new file and it took me back to I-tunes and played the short version for me. It did not put it into the Ringtones file. Am I doing something wrong? I tried it a second time as well, with the same result. I tried moving it into the Ringtones file as well, but that didn’t work either. And the extension is showing up as .m4r with the file type as Ringtone.

  3. Kristin says:

    I tried following these instructions and everything worked great up until step 9. I double clicked on the new file and it took me back to I-tunes and played the short version for me. It did not put it into the Ringtones file. Am I doing something wrong? I tried it a second time as well, with the same result. I tried moving it into the Ringtones file as well, but that didn’t work either. And the extension is showing up as .m4r with the file type as Ringtone.

  4. David says:

    This is to Kristin. I had the same problem and realized I didn’t delete the song from the itunes library first. You have to delete the song (but keep the file). Then change the extension to .m4r. Then when you double click the file it opens up in itunes and with the new extension puts it in the ringtone folder. If the file was not deleted initially, it keeps going to the main music section as you describe.
    This works great by the way. I had been buying songs from amazon and tried for the first time to work with itunes. I had to rebuy the song for $1.29 as I didn’t think I could make the ringtone without an itunes version. Then I go to create a ring tone and they want another $0.99. Fine. I really wanted this ringtone. Then the ringtone would not sync to my iphone. It kept saying my computer was not authorized! Very frustrating. Stumbled on this and made the ringtone from my mp3 file instead. Wish I knew this ahead of time. But at least I know now.

    • mitch says:

      hi dave or ne 1 that can help my laptop uses vista do i need to change an option to change file extensions? as ive followed all the steps and have deleted the song wanted for the ringtone from itunes and it is now on my desktop but when i double click it it doesnt go into ringtones + when i open itunes am have sync my phone i click ringtones and no ringtones appear it just says sync all ringtone or selected ones, what am i doing wrong please help??

  5. Stewart says:

    Hi
    I have just tried this and no luck. I managed to create the ringtone and it appears in my iTunes library. I can also play it from there. But its not going over when i sync.

    I was soooo excited on the way home thinking that I was goign to be able to make my own ring tones :)

    Any help would be appreciated

    Thanks
    Stewart

  6. Stewart says:

    Duhhhhhh — “keep the selection 30seconds or less” Yip thats it

    Millions of thanks for this :)

    Im sooo happy xxo

  7. Erin says:

    When I option click a song, it doesn’t even give me the ‘convert to AAC format’ option, only convert to mp3. Am I missing something?

  8. Erin says:

    Nevermind! For anyone else confused, be sure to set your music import format settings to AAC rather than MP3, etc. This will give you the AAC option when you right click.

  9. [...] Make custom iPhone Ringtone for free [...]

  10. Devin says:

    Anyone having problems using this method in iTunes 9? When I change the file extension to ‘r’ and delete the the original song, iTunes plays the original song. I’ve tried deleting the song from my computer completely (deleting from the recycle bin). Also tried putting the file in the ‘Ringtones’ folder and double clicking. Nothing works.

    I made a ton of ringtones with iTunes 8 using the above method and never had a problem.

  11. herojig says:

    I think using garage band is just as few steps, as there is a share as ringtones option there. GB will automatically create a 30second band that you can adjust or move over the timeline before exporting, and there s no filenaming or messing with ur itunes library (except to select the song).

  12. emily mazz says:

    hi :)
    i just followed the steps above and when i dragged the song to my desktop it didn’t come up with m4a. it just came up with the normal song name. anyway, i renamed the song to m4r. but it still didn’t work.
    i think this is because i have the new iTunes 9,
    do you know if it deffently works on the new iTunes?

    thanks!! :)

  13. Aisha says:

    heys first thanks for the tutorial … second am having a problem i did all the steps but when i opened it but its not going in my ringtone list :S
    please help

    thnx :)

  14. teresa says:

    This works great, but i get a message from some songs that they are AAC protected and i can’t use them. What does this mean? I have also tried the garage band method without success.

  15. Joe says:

    hey devin u were u ever able to make a ringtone with itunes 9???….i used to make them all the time with 8 and ever since i dl 9 it doesnt work….

  16. Sanjay Pash says:

    Sweet!!!! thanks a million there was no way I was going to pay for a ringtone and this worked perfectly thanks again!!

    If you’re having problems make sure you follow the steps and that the song is not over the time limit!

  17. M says:

    I was able to create the ringtones but do not want to go through the hassle of syncing my ringtones because it deletes my music on the phone.

    I like to manually manage my music so I refuse to sync it. I know I can create playlists and just sync those but I feel I should not have to do that either.

    I tried drag and drop but the only ringtone that shows up on my phone was the last one I dropped in the ringtones folder even though it has all the ringtones listed in iTunes.

    I tried emailing it but I can’t download it onto my phone.

    Are there any others ways to get ringtones on without effing syncing?!?!?!?!

    iTunes blows.

  18. pizzzza says:

    peeps,

    this method no longer works for itunes 8.

    for itunes 9, you have to download a special programme.

    just youtube, you’ll get the answer.

  19. pizzzza says:

    peeps,

    this method no longer works for itunes 9 (typo)

    for itunes 9, you have to download a special programme.

    just youtube, you’ll get the answer.

  20. Michael says:

    pizza this works fine you are doing it wrong. i just made a custom ringtone for my mom so when i call her the top gun song plays

  21. Michael says:

    Try to drag the 30 second music file to the desktop and then change the extension from m4a to m4r – you have to change the file extension to m4r or it won’t work

  22. tony93 says:

    You all need to realise if you have iTunes 9 now, this method will not work. Apple has blocked it.

  23. j says:

    tony93, it does work – it seems as if it’s not working, it actually deletes the .m4r file (or moves it, I haven’t figured out which) but it also put the original into your ringtones – you do have to delete the original song from itunes and keep the file though.

  24. Rick says:

    I just used this in iTunes 9 and had absolutely no problems when I synced the ringtone. Not sure what the problems are with everyone but if you follow these directions to the letter it should work. Good luck!

  25. T says:

    Using iTunes 9 when I get to Step 5 there isn’t a selection available that says ‘Convert Selection to AAC’. Is there another way to do it?

  26. Jess says:

    I personnally used this iPhone ringtone maker to help me create my own ringtones for my iPhone
    http://ipod-tool.com/ipod-software/avcware-make-ringtones-for-iphone.html

    It can make ringtones from all media files. Besides, it can help upload ringtones to iPhone in a direct mode. Proven easy. You can free download it to try.

  27. Kindour says:

    You can also use this iPhone Ringtone Maker to help you make custom iPhone ringtones:

    http://www.iphone-ringtone-creator.info

  28. max says:

    Thank you David! Deleting the file from the iTunes Music library before double clicking on the m4r file was the missing step 8b, this then worked perfectly and synched the ringtone onto my iPhone.

  29. Hey T,

    I was having the same problem – “Convert to AAC” was not showing up. I found the solution, set your “Import Settings” to “Import Using” AAC Encoder (instead of MP3 Encoder or whichever encoder it’s currently set to).

    On a mac, you’ll find the setting under:
    iTunes -> Preferences -> General -> Import Settings -> Import Using.

    Hope this helps others also.

  30. Audiogeek says:

    I’ve made some cool ringtones and posted them at http://www.iphoneringtones.ca
    Anyone can download them there for free, check it out…

  31. Prue says:

    thanks! works a treat!

  32. kristen says:

    go to this link if you have the newest itunes version. works like a charm. youtube video by cnet. key is to got to control panel, and under folder options, uncheck hide extentions for known file types. this is how to convert from m4a to m4r

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHNrukvLthw

  33. slowzkingz says:

    I am using itune 9.0.1.8

    Just successfully created a ringtone using the above mentioned method and it worked wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing this

  34. Jane says:

    I have the ringtone in my itunes library under ringtones, but it won’t let me put those ringtones into my iphone ringtones folder so I can’t sync it… any suggestions?

  35. Wendy says:

    this method doesn’t work in itunes 9 :(

    (the ‘Convert Selection to AAC’ isn’t there anymore) so i get stuck at step 5

  36. Wendy says:

    this method doesn’t work in itunes 9 :(

    (the ‘Convert Selection to AAC’ isn’t there anymore) so i get stuck at step 5

  37. flery says:

    this doesn’t work with the newest itunes. i have 9.0.2.25. before i upgraded i was able to do this but not anymore. :(

  38. Superfort says:

    iTunes 9 should work as well, but you have to setup itunes to sync ringtones – which is not the default. Select your phone in iTunes, goto ringtones, and tick synchronize

  39. Amy Beltran says:

    You are absolutely fab!!! Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this!!!!!!!!!!

  40. Mike elliott says:

    People who say it doesn’t work on iTunes 9 must be doing it wrong! I followed the very helpful instructions and it worked great! Make sure your not just renaming the file but your actually changing the file extension to m4r! A google search for changing vista file extensions worked for me!

  41. John says:

    I can get the ringtone to the custom tab in the sound/ringtones menu on my iPhone 3GS. The ringtone can be sampled/tested but the when I call the phone the downloaded ringtone doesnt play, the first “built-in” tone plays instead.

    Maybe turn the phone off/on?

  42. Victoria says:

    When i open my Iphone settings i cant find the song i downloaded threw the steps. What do i do?????

  43. CT says:

    itune 9 definitely no problem… i was having problem after i did everything following the steps mentioned but when i sync to my iphone, the song file did not appear in my iphone setting>sound. Then when I check on itune, in my iphone ringtone subfolder at scroll down menu on the left, i found that the file was somehow not converted to m4r. So, I deleted that version and repeat steps above… walah~ i got my first ringtone… haha!

    So, the trick here is check your ringtone file type in your iphone.
    To check file type, launch itune and connect your iphone. at your left menu bar, go to device>iphone name>expand the list by clicking on the arrow>ringtone. you will see the list of ringtone, make sure the ‘kind’ is ringtone.

  44. Sasha says:

    Alright, i finally figured out why my ringtone would not appear under the ringtones in iTunes 9. You’ve got to take our m4r file and put it into the itunes folder. Then double click and it opens up under the ringtones in itunes!

  45. Gail says:

    Does this work if I created a ringtone that was NOT purchased from i tunes? I have an old song that my mom sang and I have it under my library in my music. I successfully made it into a ringtone and added it to my ringtone list, but it will not download to my i phone. Is there a way around this?
    Thank you.
    Gail

  46. Sam says:

    So these are all well and good, but how about using an actual recent version of ITunes, like say version 9…wth do I do now?

  47. Sam says:

    Sorry, forgive previous post, wrong subject and forum, mi malo

  48. Rob i nBelfast says:

    Awesome! I followed what you wrote and I am making cool ringtones! I am using iTunes 9 under Vista.

    Some folks might need to change their settings so that file extensions are shown.

    In Explorer (for WIN folks), TOOLS > FOLDER OPTIONS > VIEW then uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types”

    If you simply rename “My Ringtone” to “My Ringtone.m4r” it will actually be saved as “My Ringtone.m4r.m4a” and that will not work.

    You must be able to see “My Ringtone.m4a” and then simply replace the “a” at the end with an “r”

    Superb tip – much obliged!

    Kudos to you!

    Rob

  49. Ryan says:

    This is gold! Have been trying to create a unique ringtone to no avail for some time now and this will really help! Many thanks.

  50. Jimmie R says:

    Just dont forget to un-check: “convert songs with higher bitrate to 128 kbit/s AAC” when you finally get the .m4r to ringtones library.

    This can be done in your iPhone summary pane, solved the issue for me in itunes 9.1

    cheers mates!

  51. dave says:

    Using itunes 9.1.0.79 and it will NOT work anymore. Had no problem creating 10 ring tones with prior versions.

  52. nick says:

    Not working on 9.1 (79)

  53. Jack says:

    Point 4 – setting the Stop time DOES NOT work if I enter a start time. If the start time is 0:00 then the Stop time works. But if it’s 0:25 (EG) then the Stop time becomes a Run Time, but you can’t set it lower than the Start Time!!! So I can only make ringtones from starts of songs. Anyone got any suggestions please suggest.

  54. youpeoplertards says:

    follow the directions…it works just fine. 25 new ringtones in under an hour just now. idiots.

    • youarethetard says:

      @youpeoplertards

      Hey genius, share your wisdom if you got v.9.1(79) working. Otherwise, stop being a douche.

      • OuttaLuck says:

        Bad news – I have been making iPhone ringtones on my Mac for over a year now using the above directions, but recently upgraded iTunes to 9.1(79) and now the option to convert is gone.

        Sad day.

        • dirt says:

          it works fine man just look in the ‘Advanced’ menu at the top of iTunes now rather than right-clicking. I don’t know why Apple changed it…

          you still need to manually change the filetype to m4r of course after AAC because m4r is the ringtone type

  55. youpeoplertards says:

    as stated, follow the directions. that’s all i did, and its as simple as that. I’ve got 9.1.0.79 running on
    (2) winxp 32
    (1) macbook pro
    (1) Win7 64
    Tested all 4 after my reply just to make certain you people fail at life, and sure enough, you get an A+ on teh fail.

    • Joe says:

      Thanks I appreciate the vote of confidence … How do you change the format from m4a to m4r? when I change the format in the name (in win 7) it changes the filename to abc.m4r but in properties it remains as m4a but the name has the .m4r extension. It does not warn of changing formats or anything like that. I have now followed the steps to the letter a few times but the step 8 part does not seem to work.

  56. David says:

    I got it to work on iTunes9.1 on OSX 10.6.3.
    You have to change the “Import Settings” in the “Preferences” for iTunes. Change it from “iTunes Plus” to “High Quality (128kbps)”. Then use the “Advanced” meny and “Create AAC Version”. Rename to “m4r” and drag and drop into Ringtones.

  57. David says:

    THX David you saved the day:)))

  58. Sara says:

    I have been using this method for a long time. And now since I upgraded to iTunes 9.1.0.79 I can NOT get the ringtones to sync to my iPhone. I have tried sycing all ringtones and then only syncing selected ones and it will not import any new rintones onto my phone. It will manage to remove any old ones I had on my phone that I chose not to sync. Any ideas…help….

  59. [...] convert the song to the format you selected just as it did in any prior version. If you want to make an iPhone ringtone you’ll want to use the Apple Lossless Encoder and then rename the .m4a file extension to .m4r [...]

  60. Ali says:

    does the ringtone have to be 30 seconds? because the stop time doesnt work it would start from the desired time but wont end in 30 seconds even though i set it so weird…

  61. Kevin says:

    I’ve spent waaaay to much time on this but finally got it to work in iTunes 9.1.1 (12). For whatever reason, when you set the start/stop time (let’s say 0:34 to 1:04.00) and you create your aac version, the stop time becomes the RUN TIME. I will start at 0:34 and run for 1:04.00 (which means the end time would be 1:38.00) It’s weird and became a pain in the ass. So this is what I did.

    I wanted my start time to be 0:34 and knowing that the stop time was actually gonna be the RUN TIME I wanted it to RUN for about 34 sec. You can’t have a start and stop time of 0:34. So I Set the start at 33(one second earlier in the song) and stop at 34. Created the aac that starts at 33sec and RUNS for 34sec. Then with that new aac file went in and set only the start time to 01 to get rid of that extra second that I had to add from earlier in the song. Create another aac. I then used that aac file, dragged to desktop. Created the M4r. Plugged in my phone and let it go through it’s auto sync stuff. When it was done I checked of Manually manage songs and videos and clicked apply. Once that was done I dragged the m4r file from my desktop to the left side of iTunes where it says Devices. It started to sync again and added the ringtone to the ringtone folder under Devices. Checked my phone and the ringtone showed up under the custom in settings > sounds> Ringtones. Done. Hope you can understand all of this.

  62. Joe says:

    How do you change the format from m4a to m4r? when I change the format in the name (in win 7) it changes the filename to abc.m4r but in properties it remains as m4a but the name has the .m4r extension. It does not warn of changing formats or anything like that. I have now followed the steps to the letter a few times but the step 8 part does not seem to work.

  63. angelz says:

    @Dirt..
    thank you for the tips it helps me alot… mwah!!

  64. Amy says:

    Thanks to all for your advice/tips.
    I followed all the steps and successfully created a file less than 30 seconds, in the correct .m4r format, and it is showing up in the ringtones folder in itunes. All seems well, but it will not sync to my iphone. I have set itunes to sync with ringtones, so that is not the problem. After syncing the phone, I check in settings>sounds>ringtones, and it is not there. Has anyone else encountered this, and if so, can you suggest what may have gone wrong? Thanks!

  65. Martin says:

    Sounds like you have more that 30 sec for your tone???

  66. Aj says:

    how do you change it from a “m4a” to a “m4r”

  67. Amy says:

    All my ringtone are less than 30 seconds. I followed all the steps exactly, and here is what I’ve found: It won’t work for any song that I copied from my own CD. For some reason, I can only make ringtones out of Mp4 files that other people gave to me in that format. It doesn’t make sense because these songs are showing up in my ringtone folder on itunes in the correct m4r format, but they don’t synch onto my phone. Does anyone know why songs from my own CDs don’t work? Am I copying them into itunes incorrectly (the songs themelves synch to my iphone just not the ringtone versions)

  68. Kenny says:

    For all those of you having trouble getting the ring tone to sync with your iPhone: If you went through the whole process ended up with your song in the ringtone folder in iTunes but couldn’t get it to sync, I went to the iPhone under devices, click on ringtones, then check the selected ring tones radio button. I had my sync off and that seemed to be the only way I could get the ringtones on my phone.

  69. ary says:

    Its a shame none of this works!!!!

  70. amber_siow says:

    Since I’ve upgraded the ITunes to version 9.2.1.5, I cant seem to proceed from step 5 “Convert AAC version”. When I right click the song after selecting the 30 sec portion, the option to create AAC does not appear. Even from the Advance tab at the top of itunes, the “Create AAC” was grey out and prohibits user to select.

    Does anyone encounter the same problem and have solutions to share?

  71. [...] you used iTunes 9 to make custom iPhone ringtones the process is very [...]

  72. macSteve says:

    Hi,

    better i really reccomend Ringbuilder to you guys, it’s easy to use !

  73. amber_siow says:

    I manage to find out that the ringtones can only be created from the songs that are saved in the Library>music section. I used to do it under music section in my device>phone>music.

    I also notice that iphone can only display one to 3 customise ringtones in the settings, for our selection to set the ringtone for our iphone. Even before I upgrade the software to the new version, I also encounter this problem. Just wondering if anyone iphone display more than 3 ringtones or all your ringtones? If it does, is there any settings I need to set?

  74. fhdfh says:

    Blu-ray DVD Ripper enables you directly rip and convert your Blu-ray movies and general DVDs, even the protected DVDs and Blu-ray DVDs ( remove AACS and BD+ encryptions up to MKB V19) into other popular audio and video formats

  75. suresh says:

    I tried everything. it synced to itunes and iphone. itunes is version 10 and iphone is 4. something.

    it plays in i tune but does not show in iphone. please help.

  76. erin says:

    hi i keep doing everything but when i go to delete the original it doesn’t give me an option to ‘Keep the file’ so it deletes completely and leaves no folder yet to double click back to the libraryy

    hhhhheeeeelllllllppppppppppppp

  77. Marie says:

    Works perfectly! Thanks for these 10 easy steps!

  78. Bonnie says:

    I got it to work by changing the option to “hide known filename extensions” in the explorer…

  79. Foz says:

    Have done this in the past, tried with Itunes 10.4.1 now will definitely not work. Well done Apple!!!!!!

    I would recommend not updating to itunes 10.

    I have the import settings to ACC but create ACC stays greyed out in the advanced tab regardless.

  80. doris says:

    How do u rename it i think thats where i am losing it just not sure

  81. Iqbal says:

    guys if you complete all step and you didnt able to get your tune after sync its simple click on your device then select ringing tune and make sure you check on sync all ringing tune and then apply

  82. ria says:

    adeline !! thank you so much!
    i was getting worried why syncing wouldnt work T.T
    thanks so much! and everyone else ty!

  83. bombom says:

    Sorry, the first line of my request above should be ‘wonder if anyone can help’. Still drunk, obviously.

  84. ercia says:

    worked flawlessly for me. read entire post carefully and practice 2-3 times. u’ll get it….

  85. Mark C. says:

    I have ITunes 10 but Windows 7. I cannot seem to change the file extension. Does anyone know how to do this? I tried simply renaming the file, but it still shows the file as a mp4 file and not an m4r. Thanks.

  86. Chris says:

    I was so freaking happy when I saw the song you were trying to make into a ringtone in your tutorial! I LOOOVE Chromeo to death, but I don’t know many others who share my passion!

  87. Mike says:

    Hi mate. I can’t fault you on these instructions. They worked perfectly. Thank you.

  88. ally says:

    I dont know what the “keep file” thing means i only see a are you sure you want to dlete this file D:? HELP!

  89. amber says:

    it does not work,ive been on here for hours,im beginning to hate my new phone

  90. חג הסוכות says:

    מידע רב על סוכות, סוכה לנצח, סכך לסוכה

  91. Tamika says:

    This site still works. Just had trouble showing the file extension for Windows 7.
    To show or hide file name extensions

    Open Folder Options by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, and then clicking Folder Options.

    Click the View tab, and then, under Advanced settings, do one of the following:

    To show file name extensions, clear the Hide extensions for known file types check box, and then click OK.

    To hide file name extensions, select the Hide extensions for known file types check box, and then click OK.

  92. adeline says:

    it’s alright. at last i got it already!!! :)

  93. adeline says:

    thanks everyone for the solutions!

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