Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G)

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.

To change extensions in vista
1. Open a folder or open explorer
2. Click the Layout button (to the left of the Views button) as shown in the picture below
3. Click Folder Options
4. Click the View tab
5. Uncheck Hide extensions for known file types
6. Click OK

Another reader mentioned the website 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.


32 thoughts on “Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G)

  1. Jet says:

    I haven’t tried it with the 3G yet, but the 2G I own works great with this site –

    I heard about it through a forum – it’s just fantastic for creating your own ringtone, and does the editing for you.

    When you’re done, just click “save for iPhone” (or something along those lines – then put the ringtone into a folder called “Ringtones” in your iTunes music library. Double click on the .m4r file in the Ringtones folder and bingo, your own ringtone.

  2. mdurwin says:

    Have you tried using Apple’s free (with an Intel Mac) software Garageband? I make them all the time. Takes about 5 minutes.

  3. I’m a PC person so Garageband won’t work for me. One of my close friends uses it and is happy with it. Besides, I already had several ringtone mp3s setup from my old Treo (Ringo rocks if you have a palm os) so all I needed to know was how to convert them. I couldn’t find -anywhere- on the internet that actually explained what needed to be done. Lots of links to places that would do it for you, but none of them explained the process.

    Some people like doing things on their own, which is why I posted my findings.

    Oh, and Jet, FYI: the old iphone isn’t “2G”. The “3G” in the new iphone doesn’t mean “Third Generation”. It refers to the fact it’s using the 3G network for internet access. The old iphones used the EDGE network. EDGE is like dialup while 3G is like DSL. That is the reason why so many people traded in their old iphones to get a new one. The connection really does make a difference. It’s kinda funny, but the new “iPhone 3G” is technically “iphone 2g (second generation)”. My husband works as a programmer for AT&T Mobility so I get to hear about all this technical stuff.

  4. Jet says:

    Oh wow, interesting. I was under the impression the “G’ was for generation.

    In any case, it IS disappointing Apple won’t be allowing 1st generation iPhone customers the luxury of 3G. I suppose its just simply out of the hardware limitations of the 1st generation phone…

    I can only hold myself responsible – a lot of people said the EDGE network was painfully slow…and now I have to pay the price as my friends and family surf the internet comfortably on their shiny new phones 😛

  5. *nod nod* If I’m right, the 3G network didn’t come into place until after the first iphone release. It requires a new physical antenna which is why there can’t simply be an update to let them use it. Much the same reason why you can’t use a dialup modem to connect to a DSL line.

    It’s alright. EDGE on the iphone is still better than the EDGE on my old Treo. I know this because of my friend’s and theirs. Also, 3G still isn’t as fast as most wifi networks. Almost but not quite. I see a noticable difference, but then 3G is also limited by cell reception.

    Anyway, gotta run. Dinner with husband and friends!

  6. pewpy says:

    Technically, Jet is correct. The “G” does stand for generation, but not for the iphone. It’s the network generation. EDGE and GPRS are 2.5G technologies that the GSM (AT&T/T-mobile) and CDMA (Verizon/Sprint) used by wireless providers.

    3G wireless technologies include EV-DO which is used by most of the CDMA providers and UMTS/HSDPA which is what AT&T and the iphone use. UMTS/HSDPA are the superior technologies which is why AT&T’s 3G network is one of the fastest in the US.

    On the topic of the ringtones, I have yet to try this, but I thank you for the write up. I come from using a T-mobile Dash where I can just copy mp3s to my microSD card and use them as ringtones. I think Apple is retarded for trying to force people to pay for ringtones.

  7. descott says:

    Looks like the iPhone 3g 8Gb model can hold more than 10 songs. I’ve currently got 15 on my phone.

  8. @pewpy Ahh, cool. I didn’t actually know that but it does make sense. All I knew was that it was the name of the network not the phone. Thanks for the tidbit. And yea, Apple is stupid for trying to force people to buy ringtones.

    @descott I’ll have to try it again but I could only get 8 on my 16gig. I might try removing them and adding them again. Pretty simple to do actually.

  9. ravihdesai says:

    I have one question.

    I tried all of the things that you mentioned and there are bunch of videos on youtube displaying the same, but I can not see the ringtones in my iPhone. Can you think of anything that is preventing me from seeing ringtones under Settings –> Sounds menu. .

    Thanks and Regards,

  10. Not really. If the files are in m4r format then they should show up in iTunes. Are you on a MAC or PC?

  11. @Ravihdesal Ok, I might know what it is. What is the LENGTH of the ringtones you are trying to import? I had one that was 55 seconds and it refused to edit it. However, I remade it down to 22.91 seconds and it took it fine.

  12. cklife46 says:

    Hi, I have been tryin to add my ringtones all night but havent been able to do so. All of my ringtones are under 30 secs, can you recommend any reason why its not working?

  13. What are the exact files and how did you make them? It’s possible that if the original file had any sort of copyright attached then iTunes won’t touch it. I have entire albums of music that I can’t import no matter what I try. No clue why. They don’t even have any copyright stuff as far as I know.

  14. kidcasey13 says:

    I had the same problem where my ringtones wouldn’t show up. I changed the ‘sync’ options to sync “Selected ringtones” and then synced — after that, they appeared above the “Standard” ringtones; I didn’t see them initially because they’re listed under “Custom” ringtones way at the top.

    Hope this helps!

  15. Brandon says:

    worked on it for a couple hours today, basically figured out the same way as you, but it still wasn’t working.
    Thanks for figuring out the song length thing, saved me A LOT more frustration.

  16. jsku says:

    All the ringtones I converted showed up in iTunes “ringtone” folder. After syncing, only 2 out of the 6 showed up in my phone under Custom. I tried changing to sync “Selected ringtones” with the same result. Anybody encountered the same problem?

  17. @Jsku how long are those ringtones that are not syncing? I never pinpointed the exact cutoff for length, so if they are over 35 seconds I’d trim them down then try again.

    BTW, if you make a comment and it doesn’t show up, they have to be approved and I’m having computer issues (video card blew and 600×800 resolution on a 17″ widescreen is painful) so it might take a while. Just be patient. Sorry. ^_^

  18. jsku says:

    Sorry to hear about your computer problems! 😦
    I have trimmed all of them to 30 seconds before the AAC conversion….and they all show up in the Library/Ringtones folder and under the Devices/Ringtones folder. They are just not showing up in my iPhone.

  19. jsku says:

    Did a reboot of my computer and re-synced. They now all show up in my iPhone. Now let’s see if they work with the assigned contacts. Understand that was an issue with some users.

  20. @jusku this is the first time I’ve heard of that issue. It’s been working fine for me, but then I’ve only got a few people I actually talk to that i bother to put with a custom ringtone.

  21. jsku says:

    The individual ringtones seem to be working fine. Not an issue at this time. 🙂

  22. hamnable says:

    Worked like a champ! TNX for the dummies guide. As you say, unhiding the extensions on Windog is the key.

  23. somilmittal says:

    Thanks a lot! The best instructions I read anywhere on the Net. Crisp and effective. It is people like you who make the Net the amazing thing that it is!

  24. […] Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G) « Whispered Shadows (tags: iphone ringtone workaround) […]

  25. […] Being able to just simply choose your own ringtones (you can, however, do this manually, as written in Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G)) […]

  26. […] iphone supposedly – I’ve not tested Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G) Whispered Shadows […]

  27. […] is the tutorial i use for my ringtones. Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G) Whispered Shadows there should be a link for the software in there. […]

  28. […] } { Tags: links, iphone, music, software, tutorial, ringtone } I’ve already posted one tutorial on how to make a custom ringtone for the iPhone, but looking back at it, I find it’s a bit of a mess with all the edits and reviews. That’s why […]

  29. crysun says:

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  30. […] for iphone I learned how to make my own ringtones for my iphone. Sweet! Check it out here: Howto: Make your own custom Ringtones for iPhone 2.0 (3G) Whispered Shadows __________________ If guns are outlawed, only the government will have […]

  31. jenny5557 says:

    The easiest way I’ve found is to use the free online ringtone tool from

  32. macglob says:

    I searched on the net and I found this application: Ringbuilder where you can create your own ringtones on your iPhone. Link:

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