What Is an M4R File?

iPhone ringtones are saved as M4R files; you can make one in iTunes

What to Know

  • An M4R file is an iPhone ringtone file.
  • iTunes is the primary program that opens one, but you might also have luck with VLC.

This article explains what an M4R file is, how to use one on your phone, and how to convert an audio file to or from this format.

What Is an M4R File?

A file with the M4R file extension is an iPhone ringtone file. They can be created in iTunes and transferred to an iPhone as custom ringtone sounds.

These files are actually just .M4A files that have been renamed to .M4R. The file extensions are different only to differentiate their purposes.

M4R files in Windows 10 that open with iTunes

How to Play an M4R File

Open M4R files with Apple's iTunes program. If they aren't copy protected, they can be played using the free VLC software and other media players.

To play the ringtone with a different program, try renaming the extension to MP3 first. Most media players recognize the MP3 format, but they may not support loading files that have the M4R extension.

If you find that an application on your PC does try to open the file but it's the wrong application or you'd rather have another installed program open it, you can change the default program that opens M4R files in Windows.

How to Convert an M4R File

You're probably not looking to convert the file to another format, but instead to convert a file like an MP3 to the M4R format so that you can use it as a ringtone. Follow our guide on how to make a song a ringtone on iPhone to see how this is done.

What you're doing is converting the file from your iTunes library to M4R, and then importing it back in to iTunes so that your iPhone can sync with it and copy over the new ringtone.

Not every song downloaded through iTunes can be used as a ringtone; only those that are specially marked as supporting the format.

Several free audio converter software programs convert to and from this format. FileZigZag and Zamzar save the file to formats like MP3, M4A, WAV, AAC, OGG, and WMA.

Of course, you could always buy ringtones for your iPhone instead, or use certain websites to download free ringtones.

Still Can't Open the File?

Some files have a similar file extension, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the formats are related and that they can be used with the same programs.

For example, M4E are used for some videos, M4Us for playlists, and M4s for macro processor library text files. If you can't open your file as an audio file, double-check that you're reading the file extension correctly.

You might even have a file that just shares one of the letters, like an M file.

If you don't really have a file that ends with any of these file extensions, research the letters/numbers you see after the file's name to learn more about the format and which program you need to open/edit/convert it.

  • How do you add .M4R files to iTunes?

    You can add .M4R files to iTunes or Apple's Music app using two methods. The first is to drag and drop them into the app; you can also use File > Open and select the file from your hard drive. Your .M4R files will usually appear in the Ringtones tab within iTunes or Music.

  • How do you convert a .M4A file to a .M4R file?

    No actual conversion is necessary other than renaming the file. To do so, right-click and select Rename from the menu. Remove the M4A at the end of the file name and replace it with M4R, and then press Enter to save the new name.

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