Update: I’ve redone this entire tutorial. Please check the new one as it’s far better than this one.
Yesterday I purchased my new 16gig iphone and was very happy to wave goodbye to my old Treo 650 which had lived long beyond it’s mileage. It wasn’t until late last night when I was playing around with my custom settings that I found out I couldn’t add my own custom ringtones. My friend informed me that Apple had set it up that you had to pay double through the itunes store in order to get them which greatly upset me.
This morning I decided to do a bit of research. My friend linked me a nice program that did all the snipping and importing of the songs for you, but it was a paid program with only a small taste test of what you could do. This was not pleasing to me. I am a music and ringtone junky. I love to have my friends each have their own ringtone so I know who’s calling with out even looking.
Unable to find anywhere that explained a simple way to do your own ringtones without paying for it, I tried multiple ways to get the ringtone into itunes, all without success. Finally broke down and tried the paid software demo. My hunch paid off and I found out what I needed.
1) Pick out your Source – I’ve got a pretty extensive library, but I want to make sure that the song is loud enough to jar my attention when it’s ringing, as well as clear enough to make out.
2) Edit your clip – Most songs start out soft or have a blank second or so in the front. That is not good for a ringtone. Most of my ringtones are around 20 seconds long, but I think you can go longer (See Update 2 below). Since I’m a PC person, I just use the free Wavepad from NCH Software.
3) Save your clip in M4A format – Most audio editors should be able to do this, or you can use a file converter. Switch from NCH Software is perfect if you need to do bulk conversions. There are also multiple online file converters. A good list is over on MakeUseOf.
4) Change extension to M4R – I just open up the folder I saved my ringtones to and edit it straight in the OS. Don’t worry about any warnings you get about it being possibly unusable.
5) Drag the M4R into iTunes – M4R is a useable format for iTunes so all you have to do is drag it into iTunes and it will add it to the Ringtones library. I’ve read before that it’s a good idea to add only one ringtone at a time or you might get multiples of the same ringtone rather than all of your different ones.
6) Sync your iPhone – You can now choose the custom ringtone from your list. Your overall ringtone is in the Settings/Sounds menu. If you edit your contacts directly you can assign custom ringtones for each one.
Yes folks, it’s as simple as that. As far as I know this should work for both PC and MAC users. I don’t think there is a limit on how many or how large your ringtones can be, but I’m not exactly sure so be careful with your experiments. Remember that your phone rolls over to voicemail after a certain time period so it’s pointless to make anything longer than that. Typically shorter ones will loop, but I haven’t tried it out myself just yet.
UPDATE: After adding my other ringtones, the iphone itself is limited to carrying only 10 ringtones at once. Sad Leth. If someone finds out differently without jailbreaking their phone, please comment and let me know.
UPDATE 2: I’ve figured out the problem with importing some ringtones. When I added them to my library, all of them would show up in iTunes, but not all would show up on the Ringtones tab under my iPhone. After a little experimentation, it’s because of length. The ones that didn’t show up were all 40+ seconds long. I trimmed them down to under 35 seconds and they all work now.
UPDATE 3: Someone over on my Livejournal just pointed out that by default Windows Vista HIDES and PROTECTS file extensions. You have to first unhide the extensions in order to change the file extensions.
Another reader mentioned the website MakeYourOwnRingtone.com which is perfect for people looking to get that right snippit made. You will still need to convert the file to .m4a then rename to .m4r before importing into itunes though.