Assigning Unique Ringtones to Individuals on iPhone

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The iPhone lets you assign different ringtones to each of the contacts in your address book. If you use this feature, a love song can play when your significant other calls or "Take this Job and Shove It" to let you know the boss is on the line. It's a fun way to customize your phone and it helps you know who's calling without even looking at the screen.

There are two things you need before you can assign unique ringtones to contacts: contacts added to your address book and a few ringtones. Luckily, the iPhone comes pre-loaded with a couple of dozen ringtones—and you can add your own, too.

How to Set Different Ringtones for Individuals on iPhone

To customize the ringtones assigned to your contacts, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Phone app to launch it.

  2. In Phone, tap the Contacts menu at the bottom center of the screen.

  3. From your contacts list, find the name of the person whose ringtone you want to change. You can do this by searching for their name in the bar at the top or by scrolling through the list.

  4. When you've found the right person, tap their name.

  5. Tap the Edit button in the top right corner.

  6. The contact information is now editable. Look for the Ringtone option just under email (you may have to swipe down to find it). Tap Ringtone.

  7. The list of ringtones available on your iPhone is displayed. This includes all of the iPhone's built-in ringtones and alert tones, as well as any ringtones you've created or bought. Tap a ringtone to select it and hear a preview.

  8. When you have selected the ringtone you want to assign to that person, tap Done in the top right corner to save your selection.

  9. Tap Done in the top right of your contact's information to save the ringtone choice. Now, whenever that person calls you, you'll hear the ringtone you picked.

Customize Contacts' Vibration Patterns

If you have your phone set to vibrate instead of ring for incoming calls, you can also customize each contact's vibration pattern. This will help you know who's calling even if your ringer is turned off. To change a contact's vibration setting:

  1. Follow steps 1-6 in the list above.

  2. On the Ringtone screen, tap Vibration.

  3. The pre-loaded set of vibration patterns is displayed on this screen. Tap one to feel a preview. You can also Create New Vibration.

  4. When you've found the one you want, tap the Ringtone button in the top left corner.

  5. Tap Done.

  6. Tap Done again to save the change.

How to Get New Ringtones

The couple dozen tones that come with the iPhone are nice, but you can expand that selection to include virtually any song, sound effects, and much more. There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Buy Ringtones at the iTunes Store: To do this, open the iTunes Store app on your iPhone. Tap the More button at the bottom right corner. Tap Tones. You're now in the ringtones section of the iTunes Store.

  2. Make Your Own Ringtones. There are tons of ringtone apps that help you make your own ringtones.

How to Set One Ringtone for All Calls

The iPhone uses the same ringtone for every contact and incoming call by default. You can change the default ringtone if you'd like.

How to Change Alert Tones for Text Messages

Just like you can change the default ringtone for all calls or assign individuals their own tones, you can do the same for the alert tones that play when you get a text message or other alerts. Instructions on changing the default SMS tone for all contacts are in the default ringtone article in the last section.