How to create FREE iPhone ringtones using only iTunes 8

Having recently upgraded to the new iPhone 3GS myself one of the first things i wanted to do was upload some custom ringtones that would give my iPhone that little extra personal touch. Being a firm believer in never downloading or buying ringtones from others, partly because everyone else does it and partly because never sure what you actually get, i started looking for information on how to create your own ringtones for the iPhone.

After reading a few tutorials and guides online that eventually helped me to start creating my own iPhone ringtones i thought i should also share it with you all, as all it takes is a few minutes of your time and iTunes 8 to start making your own iPhone ringtones from normal music files.

Here is the step by step guide to creating FREE iPhone ringtones using iTunes 8:

  •  Open up iTunes 8 and find music files that are DRM free (important) which i am sure won’t be a problem
  • Pick the song you like to turn into an iPhone ringtone. It is important to remember that a ringtone can max be 40 seconds long, which is why the next few steps are crucial.
  • Right click on the song and choose “get info”. Once there go to “options” and set the start time and end time of the song, without going over 40 seconds in total, then click OK.

iPhone ringtone generation step 1

  • Keep the song you just selected highlighted in iTunes and go to “advanced” menu, and then click on “create AAC version”. This will create a copy of the song at the shorter time selected. Make sure that you afterwards go into “get info” and “options” on the original song selected and un-tick the start time and end time, as i am sure you don’t want to liste to only 40 seconds of the song in the future.

iPhone ringtone generation step 2

  • Then you have to copy the song/file that was created in iTunes onto your desktop or a folder on your computer/mac. Once you have copied the file/song you should delete it from iTunes.
  • You then have to change the extension/rename the file from “.m4a” to “.m4r”. You might have to go into “folder and search options” on your explorer to, click on “view”, and then untick the “hide extension for known file types” option (example for Vista). This will allow you to change the file extension of the files to “.m4r”.

iPhone ringtone generation step 3

  • Once the files have been renamed you should drag them back into iTunes, make sure to drag them over to the “library” at the top left of iTunes (above the music folder). You should then be able to see the sound files in the ringtone folder on iTunes 8.
  • Last, sync your iPhone and you should find the ringtones avaible to use in the iPhone ringtone list.

Using this guide i have successfully created 5 new ringtones for my iPhone 3GS in the last half an hour. There is no reason why you can not use this same guide to also experiment in creating your own sounds, simply create the sounds beforehand and upload into iTunes before following the steps in this guide.


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82 Responses to "How to create FREE iPhone ringtones using only iTunes 8"

  1. Nick says:

    I’ve been doing this since iTunes 8 has been out. But I had to delete the original 30 aac file clip before iTunes would let you drop it into the ringtones folder. Beware of updates to disable this now!

  2. Johnny says:

    My itunes isn’t letting me add any of the m4r files to itunes library, or to the iphone. I’m using

  3. Mark says:

    I just followed the above and couldn’t drag the mr4 file from the desktop to iTunes; however if you open the file from the desktop (ie “play” it), it will open in itunes in your ringtone folder. Job done.

  4. Phil says:

    Thank you soooo much!!

    This is such an easy way of doing things and it works a treat!

  5. David says:

    I can’t change the file type from m4a to m4r. Can anyone help? I use Windows Vista if that helps.

  6. admin says:

    David, have you followed all the steps above? Including changing the folder and settings function in explorer as illustrated and explained? You have to do that to be able to change the file extension in Windows Vista (using the same myself).

  7. David says:

    Hi Admin, I have followed all the steps and so far with success. I just can’t find the explorer thing. Can you explain what it is/where I find it?

  8. mike says:

    Tried this All seemed to work well. I see it in iTunes, in both tghe Library Ringtones folder and the iphone Device ringtone folder. Just cant find it on the iphone. ANyone?

  9. admin says:

    Hi David, if you go into start menu and then click on “computer” it opens up the explorer/folder window. At the top left you have an option called “Organize”, click on that and go to “Folder and Search Options”. That opens up a new window, which you then click on the “view” tab. Then you untick the box for “Hide extensions for known file types” and click ok. You should now be able to change the file extension when clicking “rename” on the file you want to change. Hope this helps.

  10. admin says:

    Hi Mike, not sure what might have gone wrong, but will do some digging and see what i can find.

  11. Tazz says:

    I tried to make a ringtone, but I get stuck on step 4 when you have to click ‘convert to ACC’ – mine remains stubornly unclickable. Is there something I need to do beforehand to get it to work?

  12. Patrick says:

    I’m with mike. I changed the file type. Dragged it to the music folder under library. I see it in both music and ringtone folders. Went to the iPhone sub folder ringtones and checked sync all ringtones. Then under the drop down folders under my iPhone I can see it in the ringtone file. But it’s not on my phone in the ringtone section or the ipod section. What am I doing wrong?????

  13. Patrick says:

    Hey Mike, I figured something out. The file name can not have anything like, _ or – in its name. My file had an underscore. I removed it and bam!! My ring tone was on my phone. I hope this helps!!!!

  14. Robert says:

    This just isn’t working for me. I rename the file on the desktop, then simply can’t get it back into iTunes or on my iPhone. I’m using a mac, following all the steps, etc. I do not have the “convert to AAC” option, only to “MP3.” Once I rename the file as “.m4r,” iTunes will not recognize, open, or play the file at all. Any advice would be appreciated…

  15. Ashley says:

    hey i did everything (i’m using vista) I can not get the ringtone onto my 3G iphone. someone please help

  16. boop says:

    if youre itunes says only change to mp3 you have to go into preferences and import settings and change it to aac. now go back through the process and it will be available. just remember to change import settings to your specific preference once again before you import a cd to your hard drive, or convert one file type to another type.

  17. Robert says:

    That did the trick. Thanks, boop!

  18. Betty says:

    Everything worked fine except it don’t look like when I sync it that it’s going to my Iphone. I rechecked to make sure it was just a .m4r only but Ihave read all the other fixes and i can’t seem to figure why it’s not syncing to the phone if it’s in the ringtone file. Any ideas?

  19. Betty says:

    Ok, i kept trying and got it to work but can only get 3 to download,I wouldn’t think there was a limit. I had 5 in my Itunes ringtone list and I said to sync all ringtones but it only did 3 and not even the 1st 3, it skipped the 2 in the middle and went to the last one….go figure! My husband says I’ve wasted all day on this but it’s Sat.and i’m retired and I’m determined to learn how to do this!!

  20. Darryl says:

    This was SOOOO Helpful thank you!

  21. Brad says:

    I have a 3G on 3.0 with Mac OS 10.5.7 and iTunes 8.2.1 (6).

    I can not get this to work – step by step – and I went through a few different forums, no luck. Now here is the interesting thing, I downloaded some on a site macmost – those downloaded and went exactly where they were supposed to, but none I make myself.

    I investigated the file and tags and it appears to be just an m4r file in my download folder, nothing unusual, but when I rename and double click or try to drap to the Library – no dice.

    Hmmm, I am wasting a ton of time also but want to make it work dang it! 🙂 input?

  22. Dan says:

    Great job! Thanks for posting!

  23. Mary says:

    Followed all steps, and made sure I was only using DRM-free songs, but still will not sync onto the actual phone. I have iPhone 3GS and iTunes .

  24. Karen says:

    I have just got an iPhone 3GS and determined to get a ringtone on it! I can do all the steps but then get stuck on changing the file path, I have Windows XP – can someone help please?

  25. Natalie says:

    Thanks! That worked like a charm!

  26. D says:

    Try removing any spaces between words when u rename it before moving it back to iTunes (double click it to play it and it will appear in the iTunes folder if dragging it to the library doesn’t work) this seemed to have worked for me. When u drag it to iTunes the space will reapear.

  27. Ooosh. says:

    Same problem as everyone else. Im using Vista, the latest Itunes and a iPhone 3GS. Followed all the steps, its under 30 secs, changed the file name, deleted it from Itunes, the ringtone is created but it will NOT drag into itunes at all nor the iphone when it is in sync. I also downloaded Iringer which put the ringtones in a folder but they did not go into Itunes as was stated. Ive tried it on various tracks. How can you tell if your music has DRM ? Really annoyed, anyone got any ideas ????

  28. Kindour says:

    Thanks for sharing!

    i always use this iphone ringtone maker to create custom ringtones for my iphone 3g: http://www.softdiggs.com/iphone-ringtone-maker.php

    the site also offers a way to make free ringtones for iphone using only itunes.

  29. Ooosh. says:

    Just a quick note guys, I now have it working. You have to drag it from the Windows Explorer window and then it will go into your ringtone folder on Itunes. It will not work from your desktop, I seem to remember now I had the same problem putting movies onto my Ipod. I hope this helps as it was driving me crazy! 🙂

  30. Kim says:

    Thanks to everyone for the advice and tips–I followed the instructions and everything has worked fine for me (copying my song as a ringtone, syncing to my iPhone, finding the custom version as an option on my iPhone in ringtones, etc.), until this: I assigned my custom ringtone to my home phone number. However, when I call my iPhone from my home phone, it doesn’t play the custom ringtone. Instead, it goes to the first in the list of ringtones that iTunes had loaded on the phone when I bought it (the marimba). I had already deleted our home number from my husband’s contact information so that the only contact with my home phone number is my contact that I have (uninspiringly) named “Home.” When I pull up “Home” as a contact, it shows my custom ringtone–but doesn’t play it. Any ideas? (I have a 3G iPhone, version 3.0, and have iTunes Thanks!

  31. dickie says:

    Hi. I have tried to drag the file into library but it didnt go into itunes anywhere. Then i tried to play it from desktop top and it loads itunes up just doesnt play anything? HELP PLZZ!!!

  32. dickie says:

    It even has the little icon on the folder that says “Ring” but still wont drag and drop into my library what do i do lol its driving me up the wal

  33. dickie says:

    I have a 3G iPhone, version 3.0, and have iTunes

  34. Stephen says:

    Thanks heaps for sharing that, it worked perfectly and its awesome to be able to have my own ringtone now.

    I was just wondering if it was possible to do the same sort of thing for the text message alert sound? Does anyone know if thats possible, or how it might be done?

    Thanks again.

  35. admin says:

    Hi Stephen, glad you found the article helpful. In terms of doing the same for txt messages it is a bit more complicated. I have been trying to figure out that part myself as well, and from the information i have found so far it does require somewhat of a hack of the iPhone. I’m hoping to be able to test this in the coming week or so, and if it works i will provide details on the site as to how to go along getting custom txt messages onto the iPhone.

    Quite surprised actually that Apple has made things so difficult when it comes to setting your own ringtone or text alert tone.

  36. lsgagnon says:

    PLEASE HELP! i have every step completed yet it will not sync to my iphone!

  37. Lulu says:

    This is awesome! Thank you!! =)

  38. Dan says:

    The new iTunes update (or the iPhone update) has apparently DISABLED this type of ring tone creation. All my old ringtones I made before these updates still work fine – but any new ringtone shows up as an available ringtone on my phone – but when someone calls – I hear the generic MARIMBA music. Looks like Apple fixed this and decided to try to cheat us out of more money.

  39. JJ Hammond says:

    Mark you rock, been having this prob for a few days, cheers cheers cheers

  40. Dan says:

    Actually nevermind – if you update the phone software and the iTunes software it seems to work fine still.

  41. Sandy says:

    I followed all the steps above and can see the three ringtones I created on my iPhone “ringtones” tab within iTunes. But after syncing, I see three ringtones on my iPhone 3Gs, but they are identical. So only one ringtone made it to my phone, but it made 3 copies of the same ringtone. Any ideas/suggestions? Thanks!!

  42. Sandy says:

    Nevermind, I figured it out. 🙂

  43. Helena says:

    Hiya, ive got a 32gb 3gs and the latest version of Itunes. have created the file perfectly fine and it shows up in “ringtones” in itunes, and i sync my iphone, shows up in the list of folders when i expand the name of my phone in itunes, but when i go in settings and sounds on my actual handset i cant see the new ringtone?? ive looked all over the internet and not found a single answer, please help

  44. Julius says:

    Had the same problem as Mike. It showed up in my iTunes ringtones folder AND on “my Phone” folder in iTunes, just didn’t show up on my phone. The solution is that you MUST delete the original file in the iTunes music library. After that it worked great!

  45. Julius says:

    Clarification: By “original file” I mean the original 40 sec part you made, which is still in your music library. Not the original song haha.

  46. Andrew says:

    Am using iTunes and it worked liked a dream, quick and simple. How long before iTunes cotton on and update the software to prevent this simple process from working

  47. Jane says:

    doesnt work in the UK i dont think. I cannot get the file to drag across into the Library & thus go into ribgtones folder- no matter what I try! any suggestions please? I have a 32g SGs & Itunes v8.0

  48. Drew says:

    I’m using Win7 and can convert to AAC ok but unable to rename file type to .m4r. Any suggestions?!

  49. Scot says:

    Sandy (or anyone else)

    I’m having the same problem you did- I uploaded three custom rings but only one shows up on my phone, three times. What did you do to make this work?

  50. Con says:

    Thank you. Very very useful. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to do this for the more technologically challenged of us

  51. Rachel says:

    I am having the same problem as Scot and Sandy. All of the ringtones appear in the iTunes but on the actual iPhone, it is the same ringtone five times instead of five different ringtones.
    Any thoughts?

  52. Pat says:

    OK I have tried this and it works up to the point of getting the ringtone into the ringtone folder. It goes into the music folder not ringtone. I have confirmed the file extension is m4r. I have tried draging, I have tried adding a file, I have tried adding the folder, nothing happens. I tried double clicking and it just plays the file in winamp. Any Ideas?
    Itunes Iphone3G

  53. Ben says:

    Will this work with iTunes 9.0? Anyone tried yet?

  54. Ben says:

    Make sure that you’re deleting the duplicate acc file prior to dragging the m4r file to the music folder

  55. Kelli says:

    yes, it works with itunes 9.0. thats what i used. but for some reason, it only shows one of the three ringtones that i put on my phone. in itunes, it says that theyre all on there, but when i look on my phone, it only shows the first one. i had deleted that ringtone and once i did that, the next ringtone that was now first on the list was the only ringtone to show on my phone. why is it doing that? help? anyone?

  56. Amy says:

    I’m so frustrated with this process. I’ve followed every step, I got the ringtone onto my phone once, but of COURSE the next sync I did, it disappeared. I’ve been trying to sync it back for about 2 hours now, and it will not sync back to my phone. Is there a solution at all?? I’ve turned my phone on and off about a dozen times, that’s not helping, nothings working and all I want is my ringtone back!! HELP!

  57. steph says:

    Hi, I have tried this a few times and cut the song down to 30 secs which it says it is when it’s in my itunes library but when i re-import it into itunes it goes to 00 secs????? anyone help?

  58. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing, You may also download this iPhone Ringtone Maker for a try, I know it can make your own iPhone ringtone from any music you love., my friends recommend it to me, it’s safe and works pretty well for me.
    Hope it helps.

  59. applite29 says:

    found a nice collection of free ringtones at http://www.iphoneringtones.ca

  60. Hi – I don’t comment on many blogs but had to on yours. It’s really nice! I really like how you write – very to the point, unlike a lot of other blogs. Thanks for having this site. I’ll bookmark it and visit regularly. Please visit http://www.Beyonceitis.com! Keep up the great work!

  61. Claire says:

    Worked great. I had to add the song into my ringtones folder by importing the track rather than dragging. But I am so glad I have my choice of ringtones!

  62. KotuKedi says:

    Many Thanks. Works Great!

  63. eve says:

    Nice post and blog! Greets.

  64. Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing this.
    As for iPhone ringtones, my friend and I are using this iPhone ringtone maker:

    It can help make ringtones for iphone from all mainstream video/audio formats including AVI, MPEG, WMV, DivX, MP4, H.264/AVC, AVCHD, MKV, RM, MOV, XviD, 3GP, WMA, WAV, RA, M4A, MP3.
    Most importantly, it’s easy to use.

  65. will says:

    Nice post and blog! Greets.

  66. Ripp says:

    grab some cool free ringtones at http://www.iphoneringtones.ca

  67. Mitch says:

    Absolutely spot on…just baught an iphone and now can have me own ringtones. shame apple don’t let you use them for mms tone aswell

  68. Threedoors says:

    I also got lot of ringtones for my iPhone at http://www.iphoneringtonesmaker.org

  69. Maria says:

    Thanks for this – a piece of cake to do on a Mac! Those who are having problems are obviously using PCs…

  70. Tony says:

    I m using iTunes 9 will this b possilble? also mine is 3G..

  71. cashmare says:

    yea tony it works just fine with itunes 9. and u dont need to transfer the changed format file back to itunes. u can create a folder on ur destop or samfin n save the files der. just make sure that u play the song for it to appear in itunes under ringtones. den drag the file to the iphone. n there it is

  72. lewis says:

    have done everything. converted it and got it to my ringtones folder on itunes. when i plug iphone in and click on the ringtones folder below it ringtone is in there butwhen i look on my iphone after syncing it to change my ringtone its not there!! help!? lol

  73. Rolf Papai says:

    Hi Initial time jumped here on your website, founde on ASK.

  74. dawn says:

    worked a treat, thanks so much. can you do the same for message alerts?

  75. Judith says:

    I got it to work as far as getting the ringtone onto my phone but it isn’t apearing in my ringtone list (when I look on iTunes it’s there on the phone in the ringtones folder but in grey rather than black). Any help would be gratefully received!

  76. Smiler says:

    Thank you so much I’ve been trying for hours. It’s easy when you know how.

  77. . It’s easy when you know how

  78. Malcolm Parnell says:

    worked a treat on my iphone 3g with ios 4 thanks alot

  79. Chris says:

    Followed the instructions and it’s all worked well for my iPhone 4 but do you know how I’d change the Text Tone ? Is it possible ?

  80. admin says:

    At the moment there is no easy way to create custom text tones for the iPhone. Apparently there is a very technical way to work around it but have not tested it myself either yet so would not recommend it at the moment.

  81. Johnny Ixe says:

    Or you can use GeoRing app to change your ringtone to any song in your iTunes library with just a few taps. Unlike other ringtone-making apps, GeoRing doesn’t require iTunes syncing, which means your phone can ring with any song, instantly. Plus, create a Ringtone Playlist and hear a new ringtone every time. GeoRing randomly picks a song from your playlist when your phone rings. No other app makes ringing so much fun. You can find GeoRing in the App Store.

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