Creating your own iPhone ringtones isn’t as easy as it should be, but it’s still relatively easy. You can do this using the Music app, which replaced iTunes starting with macOS Catalina.
If you’re using a Windows PC or still using macOS Mojave or earlier, check out our guide to adding custom iPhone ringtones using iTunes.
What you need to know about creating ringtones
We’ll be using the Music app first introduced in macOS Catalina to create the ringtone, so the first thing you need to do is make sure the song or audio clip you want to use is in your Music library. You can’t use DRM-protected files, nor can you use Apple Music songs to create ringtones.
We are illustrating this process with an iPhone, but this process will work just the same with an iPad or iPod Touch.
You must have a DRM-free sound file downloaded locally on your computer. This could be a song you’ve purchased from iTunes, or an audio file you’ve downloaded elsewhere. Drag and drop the file into the Music app (or onto the Music app icon in the dock) to import it into your library.
The maximum length of an iOS ringtone is 40 seconds, but the maximum length of an alarm or other audio alert is only 30 seconds. We recommend sticking to 30-second clips to maximize compatibility, as you’ll likely be answering the call well before the 40-second clip is up.
Finally, don’t worry that your original song will be affected by this process. We’ll trim 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.
RELATED: How to add custom ringtones to your iPhone
First: create your ringtone file
By now, you should have a song or audio snippet in mind and have the DRM-free MP3 (or MP4, whichever works) in your Music library. First, find the file either by searching or by using the “Recently Added” shortcut if you imported it manually.
Now right click on the song you would like to use and click on “Get Info” and click on the “Options” tab. Now enter the period of 30 seconds in the “Start” and “Stop” boxes. Modify the start and end points of your ringtone, but make sure it’s no longer than 30 seconds.
At any time, you can hit “OK” to save your changes, then click play to listen to your clip. When you are satisfied with your work, click “OK” one last time. Now click on the song so that it is selected, and then click File > Convert > Create AAC version.
Music will create a new version of your song with just 30 seconds of play time. Once complete, it will start playing in the background. On an album, it will be added directly below the original, and only the running time will differentiate the two versions.
Important: Once you’ve created your ringtone, it’s time to go back to the original song you used and remove those start and end points. Find the original song (it will be the version that is longer than 30 seconds), right-click it, select “Get Info” and then clear the “Start” and “Stop” checkboxes in the Options tab.
Next: Export and transfer the ringtone to your iPhone
You can now export the 30-second clip you just created by dragging the file to your desktop or right-clicking on it and selecting “Show in Finder”. Save 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 that they are both AAC/MP4 encoded audio files.
Right click on your M4A file and then click “Rename”. Sort the file name and change the file extension from “yourfile.M4A” to “yourfile.M4R” and, when prompted, choose “Use .m4r” in the dialog that appears. We recommend creating a “Ringtones” folder in your Documents or Music to save 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 its included Lightning-to-USB cable, launching Finder, and then looking in the Finder sidebar under “Locations” for your iPhone. Click your iPhone to launch the sync window, and then click “Trust” and enter your iPhone passcode if prompted. While you’re there, enable the “Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows” option in the General tab.
Now all you need to do is drag the .M4R file you just created and converted into the sync window. It will sync almost immediately as it is so small. If you’re having trouble doing this, you can also sync from the Music app: select the desired iPhone that appears in the “Devices” section of the sidebar, drag the .M4R file we just created, and drop it anywhere in the Sync window. synchronization.
Finally: use your personalized ringtone, alarm or alert
If you did everything correctly, your ringtone is now waiting for you on your device. Head to Settings > Sound & haptics > Ringtone. Your new custom ringtone will appear at the top of the list. If it doesn’t appear, try the sync process again. (We had to try twice, though we suspect it took a while for the ringtone to appear in this menu.)
You can also launch Clock and create a new alarm with your ringtone, or use it as an alert for your timers. Apply a ringtone to a contact of your choice in Phone > Contacts. You could even create smaller alert sounds and override the system defaults in Settings > Sound & Haptics if you like!
Do you want to delete a custom ringtone?
iOS 13 makes it much easier to delete ringtones you no longer want. You can now simply swipe from right to left on a ringtone in the list to reveal the “Delete” option. Do this from the Settings > Sound & Haptics menu or anywhere you can select a custom ringtone.
Don’t forget to disable silent mode
If you want to enjoy your new ringtone, you will need to leave silent mode first. And don’t forget that as much as you enjoy whatever song or audio clip you’ve used, there’s a real person on the other end of the phone waiting to talk to you!
Ultimately, this process is much more involved than it should be, but it works pretty well and doesn’t cost a dime. If all of this seems like too much work, you can always find ringtones for sale by launching the iTunes Store app on your iPhone and then tapping More > Ringtones to view them.