Creating Ringtone From a Song

You can create a ringtone for your iPhone or iPad from a song you own using iTunes and QuickTime Player. This works for iTunes purchases as well as songs obtained in other ways, but not for Apple Music songs. You can trim the song to a section you want to use as a ringtone and then use iTunes to transfer it to your iOS device.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Creating Ringtone From a Song.

Hi, this is Gary with On today's episode let me show you how to create a ringtone from a song in iTunes.

Here's a way to create a ringtone from a song you have in iTunes. It works on songs that you've read into iTunes from a CD or brought in as a raw file from some other source or even a song that you've purchased on iTunes. It doesn't work for songs that you're listening to with Apple Music. I'm actually going to do this demonstrating with a song that I bought off iTunes so that you can see it works there and, of course, it works in those other cases as well.

So I've got this song right here. Notice that I'm using iTunes match so I've got these little cloud downloads here. I've made sure that I've clicked on it for this song. So now I have a copy of this song on my hard drive ready to go. It won't work until you do that. So if you see the little cloud thing there because you've purchased the song but you haven't downloaded it to this particular machine or because you're using iTunes match and it's not currently on the machine you need to download it first. I can see that I have that for this.

Now I want to Control click on the song and I get a whole bunch of different options here. I could just go right to Show in Finder and it will reveal the file but if I started creating a ringtone from that file that's there it actually won't work. Instead I have to do this thing here where I use the Create AAC Version first. So I'm going to do that and you can see it's going to create a duplicate. You can see this was the original and you can see the duplicate is here.

Note that if you go into iTune Preferences here and you go to Import Settings you have to have your import settings, I believe, set to AAC Encoder for this to work. It should be there by default but if you've changed it to something else change it back here so you get that option there when you Control click.

So now that I've got that, I've got two copies of the song here, I'm going to Control click on it again and say Show in Finder. It will open up that folder where the song is. You can actually see I've got two versions of the song here. Switch to List View and you can see obviously this is the new one because it has appended the number one to it and this is the original one. You can see this is the one I just downloaded first and then six minutes later I converted it. So this is the new one and this is the one I want to work with to create a ringtone.

What I need to do next is I need to trim this because the ringtone needs to be short. I can do that in a lot of different apps. You can use almost anyone to do that and you can use GarageBand certainly to do it but a simpler way is to use QuickTime Player.
So I'm going to do Open With, I Control Click and I select Open With, and I'm going to do QuickTime Player. I could drag and drop into QuickTime Player. I have it right here in the Dock and I could've done that.

Here I have the entire song. I'm going to immediately go to the Trim function, Edit Trim or Command T, and I get this trim interface here. I can stretch the right side of the window so it is easier to see where I'm trimming. So I'm not going to listen to it here because if I listen to the song here it would be on the video and it will be picked up by You Tube and you're not supposed to do that.

So I'm just going to trim a random section here, about twenty seconds. You can go up to thirty seconds. You want to keep it short. I's just for a ringtone. But you definitely would have trouble getting it into your iPhone if it's longer than that and you probably would have something that is too long. So I usually go about twenty seconds. Hit Trim.

So now I've got a smaller section here, nine seconds of that song, and I'm going to, now, save it. Actually anything I do with it I'm going to have to Save because I've trimmed it and it's not going to just save over the existing version. I want to Save it to somewhere so I'm going to save it to the Desktop and I'm just going to call it something and Save it out. There it appears on my Desktop.

Now I want to work with this file here. What I want to do is change the file extension. .m4a tells iTunes it is a song. I want to actually rename it .m4r and that tells iTunes it is a ringtone. I'll get a warning and say yes I want to use that. Now I go back into iTunes here and I'm going to click on the three dots here at the top. Instead of viewing music I'm going to go and view Tones. You can see I've got no tones saved here in iTunes. All you need to do is drag and drop the m4r in here and now in my iTunes library I have one tone.

Now that I've got it in the iTunes Library I can move that to my iPhone. I've got my iPhone here at the top and I'm going to select that. Now I've got a left sidebar that shows me settings for the iPhone and I can look at all the different settings here and the one I want is the one called Tones. I want to set it to Sync Tones. I can set it to All tones which would just take everything that's in my iTunes Library or the Selected one. I only have the one, of course, and that will be selected. I hit Apply and that will sync it to that iPhone.

So now if we look in that iPhone, under Settings, and go down to Sounds I can set the ringtone. You can see right there, right above the default ringtones, is the song that I've chosen. So now I've got that song there and I can set it to a ringtone or some other alert tone. Anything that you use a ringtone for on your iPhone or iPad.

So now back on my Mac I want to get rid of that extra copy of the song. I really don't want that anymore. I can do that here. An easier way to do it just to clear your iTunes library nicely is to go back. Remember it was the first one here that was the copy so I'm just going to hit Delete there. I'm going to delete the song. Say yes move to Trash and you can see in the Finder that it moved that copy to the Trash. So now I've cleaned up iTunes and I've cleaned up the Finder.

Maybe instead of putting this to the Desktop I could've put this in a ringtones folder in my Documents folder just to be a little neater or depending upon how you have iTunes setup it would've just copied that into your library anyway so you won't even need this extra version of the ringtone.

Comments: 12 Responses to “Creating Ringtone From a Song”

    Wayne Garriepy
    3 years ago

    Hi Gary,
    When I look for ‘Tones’ on the drop down list of my iPhone between Books & Photos, it’s not there. Drag & drop doesn’t work either. Phone has iOS 9.2.1
    Tones exista in lower list but not in upper. Ideas?
    Thanks, Wayne

    3 years ago

    Wayne: Not sure what you are seeing, but it sounds like the “lower list” you mention is for your iPhone and the upper one is for your iTunes library. Watch in the video as I access Tones in the iTunes library using the button that looks like three dots.

    Adam Snyder
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the video Gary.
    I have created my own ringtones in the past using only iTunes. I wrote myself a procedure so I wouldn’t forget. However in the past 3-4 years now (with iTunes upgrades) I haven’t been able to do this anymore.
    Thanks for showing an updated way to perform this task.

    Nancy N
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much, Gary! I saved this as a favorite to on Youtube. I have stumbled thru creating my own ringtones with iTunes but it is so time consuming (when you really don’t know how to do it) and then the next time, I forget how I did it. Thank you!!

    3 years ago

    When I try to save it to .m4r I get this message: You can’t use a name that begins with a dot “.”, because these names are reserved for the system. Please choose another name. Everything went fine up until that point.

    3 years ago

    Mary: Save with with just a name like “mytone”. Then change the .m4a extension to .m4r.

    Mary Britten Briggs Lukes
    3 years ago

    Thank you so much Gary, it works great. I’ve been working on this a long time.

    Dennis Craig
    3 years ago

    When trying to sync my newly created Tone to my iPhone via iTunes, I get the following dialog box: The iPhone “Dennis Craig’s iPhone” is synced with another iTunes library on “Dennis Craig’s iMac (4)”. Do you want to erase this iPhone and sync with this iTunes library?
    Not sure I want to “erase and sync.” Any ideas?

    3 years ago

    Dennis: Hard to advise you on this. You’ll need to figure out why this is happening and what the consequences would be to sync. For me, using Apple Music and iCloud for everything it wouldn’t affect anything. But if you haven’t synced in a long time, are still syncing your music via iTunes instead of iCloud, and have music on your iPhone that comes from another iTunes library then it could mean you lose music and videos on your iPhone. Impossible to advise.

    3 years ago

    Gary as an alternate method use Garage band, new version and you can create your ringtone in fewer clicks with the benefit when you save your new work it auto populates the m4r into your correct place. I found i could not locate the file doing your method which was somewhat frustrating, but then i redesigned my music files after storing all my music on a usb drive to save space in MBP.

    Barbara Drury
    3 years ago

    After trimming my song (20 seconds) and changing the extension to m4r, I cannot drag and drop it to tones.

    3 years ago

    Barbara: Make sure you are dropping it to the right Tones. You want the one that is part of your iTunes library, not the one that is for you attached device.

Comments Closed.