Tech Q&A: how can I turn a song into a custom ringtone?

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Albert wants to use a song as his ringtone on his smartphone and we explain how to do it without having to pay extra.

Q: Albert
Hi, I’ve just bought a new Samsung Galaxy smartphone and I want to use a song as my ringtone because I’m sick of not knowing whose phone is ringing in public! Is this possible? Or will I have to pay for ringtones?

A. This is possible and very simple on your Android device (it’s a little more complicated for iPhone users).

Custom ringtones on Android
First, open the Settings app. The quickest way to access this is to simply swipe downwards from the top of your screen and then tap the cog in the top right corner.

Now tap ‘Sounds and vibration’ and then tap ‘Ringtone’. From this screen you can choose from ringtones that come with the phone, or you can scroll down to the bottom and tap ‘Add from phone’. From here choose a song and then tap ‘Done’ at the top right corner and you’re, well … done!

Custom ringtones on iPhone
Unfortunately turning a song into a ringtone isn’t that easy on iPhone, because Apple is hoping you’ll take the easy way out and just pay for their ringtones. However, it is possible, so here’s how you can do it.

You’ll need your computer for this, and you’ll need to use iTunes.

First, launch iTunes on the computer that you sync your iPhone with and locate the song you wish to use as a ringtone. Once located, right-click on the song and then click Get Info.

Now click on the Options tab and set a custom start and stop time, e.g. 1:23 to 1:53. Ringtones must be no longer than 30 seconds – so set the time you want carefully. Play the song back in iTunes to test your timing out, and if you want to be precise, you can use milliseconds in the times you enter.

Now click on the track and while it is selected click File > Convert > Create AAC Version.

After this is finished, right-click the song that you chose originally and untick the start and stop times in the Options tab. If you don’t do this, you’ll only be able to listen to the 30 second segment of this song.

Now locate the 30 second track you’ve created in iTunes. Right-click it and then click Show in Windows Explorer. If you see a file that ends in ‘.m4a’ then keep reading, otherwise you will have to adjust your computer to show file extensions. Now rename the file and change ‘.m4a’ to ‘.m4r’. Your file must end in .m4r and without file extensions visible you will not be able to change this.

Now double click on the ‘.m4r’ ringtone file you have created and it should open in iTunes and import into your library.

Once you’ve synced your iPhone, you should be able to change your ringtone by opening Settings on your iPhone then tapping Sounds > Ringtone.

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Written by ryanbo


Total Comments: 3
  1. 0

    I think in Albert’s case, the song he wants as his ringtone is more than likely on his computer. Maybe you could cover this for him as well?

  2. 0

    I just got a new phone, my first smartphone and my son transferred my ring tone from my old phone using bluetooth. It is a recording of him singing when he was 7, so I always know it is my phone ringing.



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