Can’t Drag a Ringtone to iPhone with iTunes? Here’s the Fix
Some iPhone users may notice that trying to drag a ringtone or text tone to their device through iTunes fails. You connect the iPhone (or iPad) to the Mac or Windows PC, open iTunes or Finder, select the device as required, but when trying to manually drag and drop a ringtone into iTunes to copy it to the iPhone, nothing happens.
If you encounter this frustrating issue, don’t be alarmed, as there is a way to easily copy ringtones over to iPhone using iTunes or Finder, it just does not involve drag and drop.
How to Copy a Ringtone to iPhone with iTunes / Finder
The basis of this is quite simple; rather than relying on drag and drop to copy the ringtone over to iTunes (or Finder*), use copy and paste instead. We’re using a Mac here, but the same concept applies with iTunes in Windows.
- Connect the iPhone to the computer as usual with USB and launch iTunes or Finder, selecting the iPhone as necessary
- Locate and select the ringtone file in the file system (Mac or Windows), it should have an .m4r file extension, then choose to “Copy” it (either by Command+C, right-click, or by going to the Edit menu and choosing Copy)
- Now return to iTunes or Finder, and under “On My Device” section select “Tones”
- Now use “Paste” directly into the Tones section, by pressing Command+V, right-click, or the Edit menu and choosing Paste)
- The ringtone should appear within the “Tones” section
- Choose to “Apply” and your ringtone will now sync and copy to the iPhone as expected
As mentioned before, we’re using a Mac, but if you’re using Windows then you’d simply locate the .m4r ringtone file in Windows Explorer, and use Control+C and Control+V rather than Command+C and Command+V like on Mac.
The ringtone will sync over and you’ll be able to use it as you normally would on the iPhone. You can use it as your general ringtone, assign the ringtone to a specific contact or person, use it as a text tone, or whatever else you’d like to do with it.
It’s not entirely clear why or when drag and drop stopped working with copying ringtones over to the iPhone, it may be something specific to newest versions of iTunes and Finder, or it may even be a bug. Regardless, this is a workaround and indeed it works just fine to get ringtones over to your device.
Keep in mind this is just one of a variety of ways of getting ringtones on the iPhone. You can buy them from the iTunes Store, you can set songs as ringtones using GarageBand on iPhone, or even create your own ringtone directly on iPhone using GarageBand too.
What about copying ringtones to iPhone from Mac with Big Sur or Catalina?
* For Macs running MacOS Big Sur or Catalina, the Finder handles management of iPhone, as well as syncing and copying of ringtones and the like. Some users appear to have issues with the copy and paste method in Finder, but fortunately the drag and drop method still works there.
For those Macs, simply connecting the iPhone to the Mac, then selecting it within Finder, then dragging and dropping the m4r file onto the Sync window will copy the ringtone over.
That’s just like how iTunes used to behave, but again this particular article is focused on copying ringtones with iTunes for devices still using iTunes.
Were you able to copy and transfer the ringtone m4r file over to your iPhone with this method of using copy and paste? Did you find another solution? Share your experience with us in the comments below!