How to Make a Song Your Ringtone On iPhone

Turn your favorite music into personalized ringtones

While the iPhone comes with a handful of distinctive and high-quality sounds that you can use as ringtones, the reality is that they’re the same ones that everyone else uses, so you’ve heard them all before. If you want to personalize your phone in a way that not a lot of other people take the time to do, you need to know how to make a song your ringtone. Unlike purchasing ringtones in the iTunes Store, these are free. And unlike the various free ringtones you can download, these are personalized and use the songs you already love.

The process is not as simple or straightforward as most iPhone tasks, since Apple doesn’t include any sort of built-in method for setting your existing songs as ringtones. You’ll need to use iTunes on your computer, and follow a few steps to convert your desired song to a special file format, then sync it with your iPhone. Once you learn how to do this, though, you can do it easily for multiple songs and set up custom ringtones for all your favorite contacts.

Instructions in this article apply to all models of the iPhone, and iTunes 12, 11, 10, and 9.

How to Make a Song into a Ringtone

The process starts on your computer, where you will use iTunes to choose a 30-second portion of a song and export that song clip in a file format that your iPhone can recognize as a ringtone.

  1. Start iTunes on your computer. It’s always a good idea to make sure you’re running the latest version of iTunes, especially if you don’t use it often, to make sure it will sync properly with your phone. If iTunes offers to install the latest update, let that occur before proceeding.

  2. From the iTunes music library, find a song that you want to turn into a ringtone and click on it to select the song.

    Selected song to create ringtone with in iTunes
  3. Play the song and decide what 30 second snippet of the song you want to make into a ringtone. It can be any point in the song. Write down the start and stop time so you know what time you’ll set in a few steps.

  4. Right-click the song and choose Song Info from the drop-down menu.

  5. In the Song Info dialog box, click the Options tab.

  6. In the start and stop fields, enter the time you want the ringtone to start and stop and ensure box boxes are checked. For example, if you want the first 30 seconds of the song, choose 0:00 and 0:30. Click OK when you’re done.

    Start and Stop times for the ringtone

    Your ringtone must not exceed 30 seconds or it won’t work, so be sure you do your math correctly.

  7. Click the File menu and choose Convert, then Convert to AAC Version. After a moment, you should see the new version of the song appear in the music library, directly under the currently selected original version of the track.

    Create AAC Version menu item in iTunes

    On older versions of iTunes, you might need to right-click the song and choose Create AAC Version from the drop-down menu.

  8. Select the new AAC version of the song and copy it to a location on your computer. You can simply drag it to your desktop or another folder.

    Dragging song from iTunes to Windows Explorer
  9. Back in iTunes, you won’t need that newly created AAC version, so you can delete it by pressing the Delete key.

  10. The original track is still set to only play for 30 seconds, so you can fix that as well. Right click the track and choose Song Info. On the Options tab, clear the checkmarks for start and stop. Click OK to save your changes.

  11. Now, locate the ringtone file you had copied out of iTunes.

  12. On a PC, click the View tab at the top of the folder and then check File name extensions in the ribbon. If you're using a Mac, click the Finder menu, and then choose Preferences.In the Finder Preferences, check Show all filename extensions.

  13. Click on the song file and then, after a moment, click it a second time so you can edit the filename. Click the filename extension and change it from M4A to M4R, and press Enter. If requested, confirm that you want to make this change.

    .m4r file format

Sync the Ringtone to Your iPhone

Once you've created your new ringtone, then you need to sync it to your iPhone so you can begin using it. The sync process is pretty straightforward.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer with a USB Lightning cable and then click the iPhone icon in the upper left corner of the iTunes window.

  2. Click Tones on the left side of the screen, in the section On My Device.

  3. Drag the new ringtone file from the folder on your computer to the right slide of the window, in the Tones folder. The song should sync with your iPhone immediately.

    Dragging ringtone into Tones section of iTunes

Set the Ringtone on Your iPhone

Now that you’ve created a ringtone and copied it to your iPhone, you can configure your phone to use it when a call comes in.

  1. Start the Settings app on your iPhone.

  2. Tap Sounds & Haptics.

  3. Tap Ringtone.

  4. In the Ringtone section, find and tap on the ringtone you just made.

    Sound & Haptics, Ringtone, ringtone you created in iOS Settings
  5. You can also set custom ringtones for specific contacts. To do that. Start the Contacts app and tap the contact you want to change. Tap the Edit button at the top of the screen and then choose the ringtone you want to use.