How to Add Ringtones To Your iPhone (Updated for iOS 7)

howtoaddringtonestoiphoneIt almost seems like everyone with an iPhone is sporting the exact same ringtone as you. So just how are you supposed to tell if that is your phone ringing in a crowd?–Unfortunately Apple has not made it easy on us (unless, of course, we’re forking over the cash to buy the ringtone through them). However, rest assured that you are able to add custom ringtones to your iPhone using your music on your computer. Not only that, you can do it using the iTunes program that you already have. In this article, you will pick up how to add ringtones to your iPhone through iTunes.

Now if you’re rolling your eyes at this point and dismissing this as something simple, then you’d probably be up for some more in-depth iPhone tips (and maybe even a little light iPhone programming for the especially ambitious ones out there)–and so this probably isn’t the post for you. Otherwise, if you’re a normal person with a new iPhone or a recent update and wondering where the heck everything is, then please know that you don’t have to pay for new ringtones or download questionable-looking apps and programs.

Granted, there are some apps in the App Store available to preview and download ringtones to use on your iPhone, and they work…sort of… However, the issue with these apps is that they don’t let you use the ringtones immediately after downloading them. This is because they don’t have access to the right folders within your iPhone that store ringtones. As a result, you would still have to use iTunes to sync those new ringtones to your iPhone. However, with a little effort you can make your own ringtone exactly how you want by using the software, devices, and music you already have.


  • A Computer running Windows or Mac

  • iTunes

  • iPhone with connector cable

  • A copy of your favorite song (mp3 format recommended)

The Steps to Add Ringtones to iPhone with iTunes

Step 1: Load the song that you want to use into iTunes

If the song is already in iTunes, you can skip ahead and locate it within iTunes.

If the song is only on your computer and not in iTunes yet, then you need to locate the song first on your computer and add it to your iTunes library. If iTunes is your default media player then go ahead and open the song file; otherwise, you will need to open iTunes first, then drag and drop the song into iTunes (or open it through the iTunes “File” menu).

Step 2: Once you have found your song in iTunes, right-click on the song (or control + click for Mac) and select “Get Info”

It will be the 4th option down.

Step 3: In the window that appears, make sure that you are under the “Options” tab. Then choose the part of the song that you want to use as your ringtone.

You do this by checking “Start Time:” and “Stop Time:” and then inputting the times that you desire into the respective fields. (For example, if the favorite part of my song begins after 1 minute and 25 seconds and ends at 1 minute and 40 seconds, then I will input 1:25 as my Start Time and 1:40 as my Stop Time. If I don’t care, then I can just leave the Start Time as 0:00 and use 0:30 as my Stop Time.)

Note: You must specify a Stop Time since iTunes has a size limit to the songs that it will recognize as ringtones. Keeping the total ringtone time to 30 seconds or shorter is ideal.

When you have decided the times for your song, make sure to click “OK”.



Step 4: Right-click (or control + click) on the song that you have just edited, and then click “Create AAC Version”.

(Windows)                                                                  ( Mac)

This creates a shortened version of your song in Apple’s AAC format. You will see the song available in iTunes.

Note: After you’ve created your AAC version, I am sure you would like the original song to still work correctly, so don’t forget to right-click (or control + click) on the original song, select “Get Info”, and go back to the options tab that we were using before. Here you can change the original song back to normal by setting “Start Time” to 0:00 and simply unchecking “Stop Time”. Then click “OK”.

Step 5: Now that you have two versions of your song, you must remove the duplicated AAC version from iTunes and find it on your computer.

You can do this by right-clicking (or using control + click) on the duplicated song that you have just created (you can tell the difference in iTunes by the shorter time). Then click on “Show in Windows Explorer” for Windows or “Show in Finder” for Mac.

Now, this next part sounds counter-intuitive, but go back to iTunes and delete the song in iTunes–making sure that you click “Keep File” when iTunes asks if you want to move it to the Recycling Bin or Trash.

Step 6: Go back to the folder that you just opened and change the file ending from .m4a to .m4r

You will see the song you made as something like “Song_File_Name.m4a”. Rename it to “Song_File_Name.m4r”.

(If you get a warning, don’t worry. Click the “Yes” button for Windows or the “Use .m4r” button on Mac.)



Note: If you cannot see the .m4a file extension then you may have to manually enable them in your computer settings.

In Windows, go to “Tools” – “Folder options” – “View Tab” and uncheck “Hide extension for known file types”.

For Mac, you can right-click or control + click on the file, then click “Get Info”. In the window that appears, go to the drop-down menu under “Name & Extension”. There you will be able to edit the whole file name.

(To know more about using your computer, check out my other post on beginning computer skills for both Mac and Windows users.)

Step 7: Open the file you have just renamed or drag it into iTunes.

You won’t see it in your music library, but you will be able to find it under Tones in the left drop-down menu for your iTunes library.

Step 8: Sync your newly created tones in order to get them to appear on your iPhone

You will need to connect your iPhone to iTunes and navigate to the Tones section. Click either “All tones” or “Selected tones” (making sure to check the box next the ringtones that you want to sync). Then apply and sync your phone as normal.

Note: If you had custom tones before and they have disappeared from your phone after updating, you may need to re-sync your tones once with iTunes instead of iCloud in order to get them to appear (if you still have issues, please see the Troubleshooting section at the end of this post).

Step 9: Set your new ringtone!

When the sync is done, your ringtones should be available in the sound settings of your iPhone. To see them, tap “Settings” on your iPhone, then “Sounds”, then “Ringtone” and then choose the new tone. If everything worked out, it should appear at the top of the list right above the default Ringtones.


Even after updating from iOS 6 to iOS 7, you can still use your custom ringtones from songs. Usually re-syncing them with iTunes (not iCloud) works, but if you have a particularly difficult case then you may need to follow these steps.

Step 1: Go to Tones in your iTunes library. (If you can’t find Tones in your iTunes library then you might have to go into General Preferences and make sure that it is checked).

Step 2: Right-click (or control + click) on any ringtone and select “Show in Finder” or “Show in Windows Explorer”

Step 3: Move the ringtones to the desktop.

Step 4: Delete the ringtones in iTunes.

Step 5: Drag and drop the tones that you saved on your desktop into the iTunes program window (not the iTunes folder!)

Step 6: Sync your iPhone, making sure that Tones are selected for syncing.

Success? I hope so. But don’t stop there! There are plenty of ways to take charge of your iPhone. It really is a powerful mini-computer. You might even consider this course on Mastering your iPhone so that you can learn all the secrets.

Also, did you know that you can create custom vibration patterns for different contacts in iOS 7? You can learn more about the new features in the iOS 7 upgrade in this user-friendly guide to iOS 7.