Creating your own ringtones for iPhone isn’t as easy as on an Android device, but it’s still relatively simple. You can do this using the new Music app in macOS Catalina, which replaces iTunes.
If you’re using a Windows PC or you’re still using macOS Mojave or earlier.
What you need to know about creating ringtones
We will use the new Music app in macOS Catalina to create the ringtone, so the first thing to do is make sure that the song or sound clip you want to use is in the Music library. DRM protected files cannot be used, nor can Apple Music tracks be used to create ringtones.
We are illustrating this process with an iPhone, but this process will work the same way with an iPad or iPod Touch.
You must have a DRM-free audio file downloaded locally to your computer. It could be a song purchased from iTunes or an audio file downloaded elsewhere. Drag and drop the file into the Music app (or above the Music app icon in the dock) to import it into your library.
The maximum length for an iOS ringtone is 40 seconds, but the maximum length for an alarm or other audio alert is only 30 seconds. We recommend that you stick to the 30-second clips to maximize compatibility as you are likely to answer the call long before the 40 seconds are finished anyway.
Finally, don’t worry that your original song is affected by this process. We cut and convert a new copy of the song, and the original won’t be affected at all as long as you follow all the steps below.
First: create your own ringtone file
By now you should have a piece of song or audio in mind and have DRM-free MP3 (or MP4, or it works) in your music library. First, find the file by searching or using the “Recently added” link if imported manually.
Now right-click on the song you want to use and click “Get Info” and click on the “Options” tab. Now enter the 30 second period in the “Start” and “Stop” boxes. Change the start and endpoints for the ringtone, but make sure they don’t last longer than 30 seconds.
At any time you can press “OK” to save the changes, then click Play to listen to the clip. When you are satisfied with your job, click “OK” one last time. Now click on the song so it is selected, then click on File> Convert> Create AAC version.
It will create a new version of your song with a playback time of just 30 seconds. Once completed, it will begin playing in the background. In an album, it will be added directly below the original, with only the runtime that differentiates the two versions.
Important: After creating the ringtone, it’s time to go back to the original song you used and eliminate the start and endpoints. Find the original song (it will be the version that lasts more than 30 seconds), click the right mouse button, select “Get information”, then deactivate the “Start” and “Stop” checkboxes in the Options tab.
Next: Export and transfer the ringtone to your iPhone
Now you can export the 30-second clip that you just created by dragging the file to the desktop or by right-clicking on it and choosing “Show in Finder”. Put the file in a safe place so you don’t lose it. Now you need to convert it to M4R.
This is a simple case of renaming the file and changing the file extension. iOS can only use .M4R files as ringtones, although M4R and M4A are identical in the sense that they are both AAC / MP4 encoded audio files.
Right-click the M4A file and then click “Rename”. Put the file name in order and change the file extension from “yourfile.M4A” to “yourfile.M4R” and, when requested, choose “Use .m4r” in the dialog that appears. We recommend that you create a “Ringtones” folder in your Documents or Music to store your M4R ringtone files, so everything is in one place.
Now sync the file to your iPhone. In macOS Catalina, this is as simple as connecting your iPhone via the included Lightning-to-USB cable, launching Finder, and then searching in the Finder sidebar under “Locations” for your iPhone. Click on your iPhone to start the synchronization window, then click on “Trust” and enter the passcode of your iPhone if you are asked to do so. While you’re there, enable the option “Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows” in the General tab.
Now all you have to do is drag the .M4R file you just created and converted into the sync window. It will synchronize almost immediately since it is so small. If you have problems doing it, you can also synchronize from the Music app: select the desired iPhone listed in the “Devices” section of the sidebar, drag the .M4R file that we have just created and drop it anywhere in the synchronization window.
Finally: use your own ringtone, alarm or alert
If you’ve done everything correctly, the ringtone is waiting for you on your device. Go to Settings> Audio and Haptics> Ringtone. Your new custom tone will appear at the top of the list. If it doesn’t appear, try the synchronization process again.
You can also start Clock and create a new alarm with the ringtone or use it as a timer alert. Apply a ringtone to a contact of your choice in Phone> Contacts. You can also create smaller warning sounds and replace the system defaults in Settings> Audio and Haptics if you wish!
Do you want to delete a personalized ringtone?
iOS 13 greatly simplifies deleting the ringtones you no longer want. Now you can simply swipe from right to left on a ringtone in the list to reveal the “Delete” option. Do it from the Settings> Audio and Haptics menu or wherever you can select a custom ringtone.
Don’t forget to disable silent mode
If you want to enjoy your new ringtone, you must first leave silent mode. And don’t forget that no matter how much you like the song or sound clip you used, there is a real person on the other side of the phone waiting to talk to you!
Ultimately, this process is far more involved than it should be, but it works quite well and doesn’t cost a cent. If everything seems too much work, you can always find the ringtones for sale by launching the iTunes Store app on your iPhone and then tapping More> Tones to see them.