Smartphone ringtones aren’t something people think about much, until you hear the one on your phone and want to get it changed, soon. The iPhone comes equipped with a variety of ringtones, but because we tend to hear them everywhere, the sound can get boring and annoying. It’s good to know that there are more ringtone options than Apple’s varied but limited selection.
If you are looking for something new and unique, try creating your own original ringtones. There are no limits to the songs and sounds you can use to create an eye-catching ringtone, and you can even assign ringtones to specific people so you know who’s calling from the doorbell. Just keep in mind that ringtones are limited to a maximum of 30 seconds. Besides music, you can also set the audio from the Voice Memos app as custom ringtones.
Create a ringtone with Apple Music or iTunes
Whether you use iTunes or Music depends on the operating system your Mac is running. If you are using MacOS High Sierra or earlier, or if you are on a Windows PC, then it will use iTunes. Starting with MacOS Catalina, you will use Music.
Before you begin, make sure all your software is up to date by checking for updates to your operating system, as well as iTunes or Music. To check on MacOS High Sierra or earlier, click iTunes on the application toolbar and select Check for Updates from the resulting drop-down menu. If you’re using the latest version of Windows 10, click the Help option in the menu bar below the play buttons and select Check for updates near the bottom of the resulting drop-down list.
If you are running MacOS Catalina or a newer version, launch the App Store application and choose Updates from the App Store toolbar. Use the Update button to download and install the latest version, if necessary. Depending on how old your music is, you may have to deal with removing digital rights management (DRM) protection from your track before using it as a ringtone. Also, make sure your chosen tune is downloaded to your Mac. A download icon next to your song means it resides in the cloud, so if it is, click to download it to your hard drive.
The process of creating ringtones in iTunes and Music is the same, but placing those ringtones differs depending on the MacOS you are using. Although the ringtone limit is 30 seconds, with MacOS Catalina or later, it would be better to limit the time to 29 seconds or less for more consistent results.
Step 1: Launch Apple Music or iTunes and choose a song from your collection.
IPhone ringtones play continuously in loops of 30 seconds (or less), so after choosing your song, keep in mind the start and end times of the 30-second part you want.
Step 2: Add the start and end times.
Right-click or Control-click the desired song and select Song information (iTunes) or Get information under Music from the resulting drop-down list.
Step 3: Enter the hours you want.
Click on the Options tab at the top of the window. There should be fields to Start and Stop. Enter the times you want up to, but not to exceed 30 seconds. Then click okay.
Stage 4: Create an AAC file.
Apple’s preferred audio format is AAC, a high-quality compressed sound. Both iTunes and Music allow you to create an AAC version of any song. Once you select and configure the start and end times, go to Archive > Turn into > Convert to AAC version (on iTunes) or Create AAC version In music. With the start and end times set, the new version of AAC creates a copy of that 30-second song file. The cropped copy automatically appears in your library below the original song.
Step 5: Returns to the original song information page and reverts the start and end times to their original settings to restore the duration of the original song.
Step 6: Click and drag the AAC version of your song to the desktop, or the desired save location. This will copy the file to that location.
Now you can get rid of the abbreviated song, so feel free to delete the file. Right-click or Ctrl-click the AAC file in iTunes and select Remove from library in the resulting drop-down menu. Then click the Delete File button in MacOS High Sierra or earlier (iTunes), or choose Keep files or Move to trash on MacOS Catalina or later (Music).
Step 7: Change the extension and set the ringtone.
AAC files use the .m4a file extension. Ringtones use the extension .m4r. Therefore, you will need to change the extension from .m4a to .m4r in order to use the clip as a ringtone. Navigate to the desktop, or wherever you have saved the file, click on the file name and change the extension from .m4a to .m4r. Click on the Use .m4r or Yes in the resulting alert window to confirm the change.
Step 8: Add the new .m4r file to your iPhone in iTunes.
First, connect the iPhone to your computer via its cable. Select the iPhone icon in Locations (Music) or in the upper left corner (iTunes). In the Options section, check the box next to Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows and click Request or Sync up.
On MacOS 10.14 or earlier (Mohave), drag the .m4r file to the Tones tab below On my device, which will automatically sync the ringtone with your iPhone.
Step 9: Add the new .m4r file to your iPhone in Music
First, connect the iPhone to your computer via its cable. If you are using MacOS Catalina (or newer) and you don’t have iTunes, open Finder and click on your iPhone in the sidebar.
Select the general tab, check the box next to Manage music and videos manuallyand click Request. Then drag your ringtone file to the window of the general tab. That will sync your new ringtone with your phone.
Select your new ringtone on iPhone
Now is the time to use your new ringtone. Note that you can set the new ringtone as your text, voicemail or email tone, plus a notification sound for Facebook posts or tweets. You can use your new ringtone as the default sound for any notification or alert.
For iOS 13 and iOS 15, go to Settings> Sounds and haptics> Ringtone and select your ringtone at the top of the resulting list. For iOS 14, go to Settings> Sounds> Ringtone to find the new shade.
How to create a ringtone with GarageBand for iOS
If you prefer to create your ringtone directly on your iPhone, GarageBand for iOS is one way to do it. Use it to cut out your favorite part of a song and set it as your default ringtone. Before you begin, be sure to install the GarageBand mobile app from the App Store on an iPhone with iOS 11 or later.
Launch the GarageBand application and find the song you want to use. It is better to have the music track on your iPhone. If you have not already reduced it to 30 seconds, GarageBand will do it automatically, although it may not be the 30 seconds you want.
Step 1: After starting GarageBand for iOS, choose Create Song.
Step 2: Choose any available instrument and play the Tracks tab.
Step 3: Tap the project icon.
Stage 4: Tap the loop icon in the upper right to open your recording.
Step 5: Choose the Music tab and find your song.
Step 6: Long-press on the chosen song to open it in the project menu.
Step 7: It will automatically land on the second runway.
Step 8: Play this track and drag the ends to trim the audio to 30 seconds. You can play it using the green play icon at the top.
Step 9: Tap the down arrow icon in the upper left and select My songs.
Step 10: Your GarageBand project will show up in Recent What My song. Press and hold to access more options.
Step 11: Scroll down and tap Share.
Step 12: Choose Ringtone as a format to share the fragment of the song.
Step 13: Give the ringtone a name, then tap To export at the top right of the screen.
Step 14: After exporting, tap Use sound like … you can set it as your default ringtone directly within GarageBand.
Step 15: You can set this sound as your default ringtone or text tone or assign the sound to a specific contact. If you just want to add it to the list of existing ringtones for future use, tap Done.
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