Not being able to use mp3s to create custom ringtones is one of the things that really bothers me about the iPhone. Indeed, I mentioned it in my rant about Apple the other week. Sure, you can buy ringtones via iTunes, but why pay even more money for something you’ve already purchased?
Android users can create custom ringtones by firing mp3s into a ‘\ringtones’ folder. Easy. There really is no excuse for not being able to do something similar with iOS.
Well, with a little iTunes trickery, you can create custom ringtones for free on your computer, then sync them with your iPhone. And fear not, it’s not illegal or anything. It’s really just a case of changing a little file extension.
1. Open iTunes.
2. Pick the song you want to convert to a ringtone. NOTE: It mustn’t have Digital Rights Management (DRM), so anything purchased on iTunes is a no go-er.
3. Listen to the track and identify an appropriate 30-40 second section for your ringtone. If it’s in the middle of the track, you might want to take a note of the start and stop time.
4. Right click on the track and choose Get Info.
5. Click the Options tab.
6. Enter the start and stop time for your ringtone under, erm, Start Time and Stop Time. Fairly intuitive, huh? Now, whenever you play the original track in iTunes, you’ll only hear the delimited section. Don’t worry, we’ll change it back later.
7. Click OK.
8. Right click on your track again, and choose Convert Selection to AAC. NOTE: If it says Convert Selection to MP3, for example, you’ll have to change how CDs are ripped by iTunes. On my MacBook, I’d go to: iTunes > Preferences > General > Import Settings > Import Using: AAC Encoder.
9. iTunes will create a little 30-40 second version of your chosen track. It should only take a few seconds.
10. Drag the file to your desktop.
11. Change the file extension from m4a to m4r. OSX or Windows will ask if you’re sure. You are indeed.
12. Go back into iTunes and delete the little 30-40 second track. Don’t bother keeping the file, we don’t need it any more. Move to Trash.
13. Double-click the m4r on your desktop. It’ll play in iTunes.
14. Look in your Ringtones folder. You’ll see the file you created.
15. Connect your iPhone to your computer. If you sync automatically with iTunes, you’re done. If you manage your stuff manually, all you have to do is drag the file from iTunes’ Ringtones folder to your iPhone. Easy.
16. Oh, remember to remove those start and stop times from the original track. Right click on the track, choose Get Info, under Options – delete the times you entered previously. iTunes will now play the track in its entirety whenever you listen to it.
17. Finally, on your iPhone, go to Settings > Sounds > Ringtone. You’ll see a new Custom section at the top, including the ringtone you created.
18. To assign the ringtone to a specific contact, go to Phone > Contacts, and select the relevant person. Tap Edit in the top right. The Ringtone field is about half way down the screen.