How to Create Custom iPhone Ringtones for Free using iTunes

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My Experience

Like everyone else, after getting my new iPhone a few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted make my own ringtones for the phone because I did not like the default ringtones that came with the phone. After searching the internet for the solution, I found that the process was a bit more complicated than I had thought. I could not simply drag-and-drop an mp3 file into the phone and use it as a ringtone, but instead the process involved clipping the mp3 file, and renaming it. In this hub I'll highlight the steps I used to successfully upload my first ringtone to my iPhone. I've done my best to make the process as easy to follow as possible, by splitting the process into 7 simple steps.


For this tutorial, I will use the following:

Song: Like a G6
Clip: 1:45 to 2:10 (25 seconds long)

Step 1: Decide on the interval you wish to use

The iPhone will not accept a full length song to be used as a ringtone. What you'll first need to do, is to decide on the portion of the song that you wish to use as your ringtone.

When I tried this, I noticed that the iPhone will not accept a 45 second clip, but 35 seconds worked for me. I have not experimented enough to find out the exact length that the iPhone will accept, but it's safe to say that the limit is somewhere between 35 seconds and 45 seconds of a song.

For this quick first step, all you need to do, is to decide on the interval of the song that you wish to use, and jot it down. For example, I may wish to use the interval from 1:45 minutes to 2:10 minutes of my song (note this is 25 seconds worth of the song).


The submenu with Get Info option.
The submenu with Get Info option.

Step 2: Clip the song in iTunes

Now, you want to make sure that your song is in your iTunes library (if it isn't already there). We will be using iTunes to clip our song. Locate your song, and then right-click on it. From the submenu that popped up, you want to select Get Info.

Here I've entered my time interval of 1:45 and 2:10 for my song.
Here I've entered my time interval of 1:45 and 2:10 for my song.

Now you want to choose the Options tab, and enter your time interval into the appropriate Start Time and Stop Time locations. Be sure that the check boxes next to the song are ticked. Now click OK.

Location of Create AAC Version in submenu.
Location of Create AAC Version in submenu.

Step 3: Creating the song clip

Now you'll want to once again right-click on your song to bring up the submenu. This time, we want to choose the option to Create AAC Version.

Dragging the file onto my desktop creates the new file there.
Dragging the file onto my desktop creates the new file there.

Step 4: Copy the file to your desktop

You should now see another copy of your song in your iTunes library, but with the clipped duration. In my iTunes library, you'll notice that the new version is 0:25 seconds long, which is exactly what I wanted! Now you'll want to copy this short clip into your desktop, by dragging it and dropping it (it doesn't necessarily have to be your desktop, you can choose to drag it into any directory you want). You should now see the new file on your desktop.


Renaming the file.
Renaming the file.

Step 5: Renaming the file extension

In order to complete this step, you must have the ability to see the file extensions on your computer. By default, a Windows machine will not show the file extensions, so you'll need to do a bit of work to enable it. I found that this website does a great job of explaining the process for a Windows 7 machine. They also explain the process for Windows XP here.

The new m4r file extension for the file.
The new m4r file extension for the file.

You now want to rename your file from the .m4a extension to the .m4r extension. You will see a popup window asking if you are sure you want to rename the file, select Yes.

Note that I am in the Ringtones section of my iPhone.
Note that I am in the Ringtones section of my iPhone.

Step 6: Connect your iPhone and copy the file to your iPhone

Now you should connect your iPhone to your computer (if not already connected). Then, you want to choose the Ringtones section of your iPhone. Now you want to drag the m4r file back into iTunes. We're almost done guys!


Edit: Paul Edmondson points out that the Ringtone sub-section may not appear on your iTunes. To rectify this problem, all he did was play the m4r file, and iTunes automatically created the section for him. Thanks Paul!

Look! There it is!!
Look! There it is!!
I can now use it as a rintgone!
I can now use it as a rintgone!

Step 7: Check your iPhone for the new Ringtone!

You can now check your iPhone for your new ringtone! Voila, you can now use it!

Note: To get to the ringtone selection menu on your iPhone, you want to choose Settings -> Sounds -> Ringtone.

Final Words

I hope you guys found this tutorial helpful!

Feel free to drop me a comment if you have anything to say (both positive and negative) about this hub! Don't forget to vote up my hub if you found it useful :)


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Thoughts? Comments? Complaints? 9 comments

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

How cool!!! I am so going to follow these steps to turn the "Bad Horse" ringtone from Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog into my OWN phone's ring!! WIN!


ezhang profile image

ezhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Let me know how it turns out Simone! I haven't tried this process using a Mac before.


Ari Lamstein profile image

Ari Lamstein 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

Thank you for this very informative Hub Edward.


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

Ed, this worked awesome, but I had one issue. I didn't have a ringtone section in my iphone device. To solve this, Itunes automatically creates it once you play a .m4r file. Now I have sweet custom ringtone. Every time you hear my phone rings you can thank yourself.


ezhang profile image

ezhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Nice, thanks for pointing that out Paul. I'll update my hub with that information!


ezhang profile image

ezhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

Hey Paul I've updated my hub with the information you've provided!


Paul Edmondson profile image

Paul Edmondson 5 years ago from Burlingame, CA

Can I create a ringtone from a drm protected song?


ezhang profile image

ezhang 5 years ago from Bay Area, CA Author

I haven't tried it Paul to be honest... If you ever do find out, let me know!


sabrani44 profile image

sabrani44 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing, will use this to put a custom ringtone on my phone!

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