iPhone tips: Making custom ringtones.

I’m now definitely an iPhone convert; having upgraded to the latest 3g incarnation on launch day yesterday. As I discover more things about the device and associated applications and things, I’m going to make a note of them on here. Mostly so I know where they are incase I forget stuff, but also with an afterthought that they might be useful for other people.

One of the bugbears I have with Apple is their locking down of their systems – ostensibly this is to prevent (or make more difficult) the pirating of music and videos contained on the devices, but in reality it gives their competitor devices – particularly in the mobile phone arena – an advantage in personalisation and customisation.  Not that I particularly like to have my phone making noises anyway, but the choice of ringtones in the device itself is limited, and the option of buying songs I already own again in a 30 second segment through iTunes isn’t that appealing.

So, what to do?  Assuming you have your desired ringtone already in mp3 form, it’s a bit fiddly, but quite easy.  I shall attempt to provide a step-by-step guide:

  1. You need to have the desired ringtone in mp3 or AAC format, or on a CD.
  2. Add the file to iTunes – if it’s a tune you already have, copy the file and add it a second time.
  3. Identify the 30 second section you want to use as a ringtone (ie. if you want to remove an extended intro, or go straight to a chorus, you need to know the number of seconds from the start you wish your ringtone to commence from).
  4. In iTunes, right click the track and select Get Info.  Click the Options tab, and you will notice a ‘Start Time’ and ‘End Time’ box.  Adjust these to be the 30 seconds of track you want for your ringtone.  Click ‘OK’
  5. Right click the song again, and select Convert Selection to AAC.  After a brief conversion period a new version of the song will appear below your original, hopefully displaying a length of 30 seconds.  Delete the original track from iTunes (it should still be selected), and then delete the new track from iTunes – but make sure you do not delete the file itself.
  6. Locate the file iTunes has just created (this will vary from computer to computer, however mine are in User/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/ and stored in ‘Artist/Album’ directory structures.  Once you have the file, it will have the extension .m4a – simply rename the extension part of the file so that it is .m4r.
  7. Double-click your new .m4r file and it will open in iTunes as a ringtone.  Plug in your iPhone and when you click on it, choose the Ringtones tab – it should display your new ringtone in the list.  If you have all ringtones selected to be synced, then it should transfer when you next sync the device; if you have chosen selected ringtones, then make sure you tick the check box next to the ringtone(s) you are interested in.
  8. Sync the iPhone with iTunes and you should have a new section of Ringtones above the ‘Standard’ ones on your device.

There you have it; a wee bit of a faff, but it isn’t particularly difficult – and gives you a lot more flexibility.  Unfortunately there is no similar process that I’m aware of that works for the other system sounds the iPhone has, such as text message, voicemail or email alerts.

Categories: iPhone / iPad / Mac | 1 Comment

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One thought on “iPhone tips: Making custom ringtones.

  1. John Jones

    OK nice tutorial on ringtones but, what I want to change on my 3G is the EMAIL ALERT! it does not give you options, just on and off, thats it! Suggestions?

    J J

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