Guest Post: Custom iPhone Ringtones

Today we have a guest post from none other than my charming and knowledgeable boyfriend, A! A is an amazing artist and ardent customizer. He’s always looking to make things perfect and perfectly him. Now you can, too! Check out this cool post on how to customize the least customizable object you own: your iPhone.

– Middle


So you’ve got a shiny iPhone. It’s all very pretty and now, with iOS7, does more cool stuff than ever.

But suppose you’re a bit frustrated by the walled garden that is the iOS experience. “Where do my files go?” “What do you mean all I can change is my wallpaper?”  Well, I feel ya. Luckily, there are a few cracks in those garden walls, and here’s one that you can jimmy open without the use of a crowbar: free ringtones.

At this point all the Android customers are shouting, “Hey, I can put whatever ring tone I want on MY phone!”
Yeah yeah, put down your pitchforks. I’m trying to help the people, here.

Anyways, the point is that Apple has not made it easy on you to do this, but I’ll help you out. Follow along with me as I add my favorite arcade game’s sounds to my phone. The process is nearly identical whether you’re on a Windows PC or a Mac. So boot up iTunes, grab your phone, and plug that sucker into your computer.

Step 1: find and prep the sound


First things first; what sound do you want to use? Pick a song you like, grab that weird mp3 sound effect you downloaded off Napster and still keep on your hard drive for some reason, or just record yourself screaming ‘HEY! PHONE CALLLLLLLL!” for 30 seconds straight. Whatever works.

If you want to you use a song that’s already in your iTunes library, congratulations: you can skip to Step 3. But I still made you read this far, so there.

The best thing to do here is edit the sound or song down to the section you want to use as your ringtone. I have the Adobe creative suite for work, so I like to use Audition for this. You can also use a free software like SourceForge’s Audacity, the Edit>Trim feature in Quicktime, or just deal with slightly clunkier editing in Step 3. Trim your song or sound to a 30-second-or-shorter clip; anything more is too long to play through before voicemail kicks in.

Export your edited sound file (mp3, wav, or aiff files should work) and save it to your desktop.

Step 2: feed your sound to iTunes

This part’s easy: drag the sound file into your iTunes library to import it.

Step 3: trim it up

OK, so if you edited your track already, you can skip ahead to the next step. For those of you who skipped Step 2 to get here, welcome back.

Turns out iTunes can edit your track for you. You can select a 30-second-or-less clip of any file as your ringtone. Find your track, play through it, and mark down (or remember) at what second your favorite part starts and at what second it ends.

Now, right click your track and select ‘Get Info‘ (or go to File>Get Info in the top menu). When the window opens, tab over to ‘Options‘ (5th one over).

Check on and enter the start and stop time to play only the clip you want. Then click ‘OK.’ It can be tough to get a more exact time than full seconds, but type in some decimals and listen back to try out your clip.

Step 4: AAC ‘s the way to be
iTunes AAC

Before doing this step, quickly check your iTunes preferences (in the top menu). Under ‘General‘ (1st tab), click the ‘Import Settings…‘ button. In the ‘Import Settings‘ window, make sure ‘Import Using:‘ (1st drop down) is set to ‘AAC Encoder.’ Click both ‘OK‘s and return to your library.

Now then, right click the track again and select ‘Create AAC version‘. This will duplicate your file into a format you can (almost) use as a ringtone. You can find this file in the ‘Recently Imported‘ section, since it’ll likely end up in a strange place in your library.

(If you used iTunes to trim the file in Step 3, go back to the original copy of your song and reset the start and stop times to the beginning and end of the track, otherwise iTunes will only play that clip of the song.)

Step 5: m4r’s the ACTUAL way to be
file rename

Now to turn your file into a ringtone file. Just drag your new AAC copy of your track out onto your desktop. Hit enter to rename it (Windows users can right-click it and select ‘rename‘). Simply change the extension to ‘.m4r‘ instead of  ‘.m4a‘, click ‘Use .m4r‘ (or ‘Yes‘ on Windows) and you’re set.

(If you can’t see the .m4a file extension, you need to tweak your computer’s settings. You can right-click the file and hit ‘Get Info.’ Go to the drop-down menu under ‘Name & Extension,’ where you can see/type the full file name. In Windows, go to Tools>Folder options>View Tab, and uncheck ‘Hide extension for known file types.’ Done.)

Now, be sure to delete the AAC copy from your iTunes library. You want the only copy to be on your desktop!

Step 6: Re-import

Almost there! Drag your newly m4r’d file back into iTunes. When you do this, it will be imported to your Tones. Huzzah!

You may need to tell your phone to sync Tones by checking it on in the Sync settings (4th tab over).

Step 7: Sync

Once you sync your phone, you’ll find your custom ringtone under Settings>Sounds>Sounds and Vibration Patterns. When you select a sound, you can now choose your cool new custom one, just like the ones the phone came with.

Make short sounds for you text alerts and pings, too. This is one of the few things you can truly customize, once you know the steps. Which you now do.

So there you go! Now you sound way cooler than all those other iPhone users. Here’s some proof that this really works and all:



3 responses to “Guest Post: Custom iPhone Ringtones

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