Tech Tip

Custom Ringtones for your iPhone.


Here is a fun tip for anyone who happened to receive a new iPhone as a gift over the holiday. We’ve written up a short tutorial on how you can build and add your own custom ringtones using GarageBand.

GarageBand is a fun part of Apple’s iLife suite that sits untouched on most designer’s computers. If you’ve bought a new Macintosh recently, GarageBand is sitting quietly in your Applications folder waiting to be discovered.

Pick a few of your favorite MP3 files in your music collection, and use this technique to add a couple custom ringtones to your iPhone.

Step 1. Drag an MP3 into GarageBand.


You can create a custom ringtone from any GarageBand song. If you don’t feel like composing your own original work, you can easily drag any non-protected music (MP3 or ACC files) from your computer into a new GarageBand document.

ringtones-rightsprotected.pngYou can’t import rights-protected music files. When buying music from the iTunes store, look for DRM-Free music. Or shop at Amazon’s MP3 Store for an easy selection of all DRM-Free music.

Tip: You can also drag music files directly from an iTunes window into your new GarageBand document.

Step 2. Click the Cycle button in GarageBand.


Click on the cycle button near the play button. That activates a yellow highlighter at the top of the timeline, just below the ruler, which indicates a cycle region that repeats when you click play.

Step 3. Trim your Ringtone using the Cycle Region.


Adjust the cycle region in the timeline to cover the portion of the song you wish to use as a ringtone. You can adjust the length of the cycle region by grabbing and dragging either end. You can adjust the position of the cycle region by grabbing and dragging it from the middle.

Note: This area must be 40 seconds or less in length. To show seconds in your timeline ruler, choose Control > Show Time in LCD. By default, GarageBand shows measures of your song, which is far less useful for trimming ringtones.

Step 4. Choose Share > Send Ringtone to iTunes.


Note: If Send Ringtone to iTunes is dimmed or missing, be sure you are using GarageBand 4.1.1 or later, as well as iTunes 7.5 or newer.

Step 5. In iTunes, use the Ringtones pane to sync to your iPhone.


Be sure your iPhone is running software version 1.1.2 or later.

Step 6. Assign Ringtones to Contacts on your iPhone.

ringtones-iphonecontact.pngThis is the fun (and slightly addictive) part. Once you’ve added ringtones to your iPhone, you can assign specific ringtones to individual people in your iPhone contacts.

Find a friend’s name in your iPhone contacts, and click on the ringtone option in that person’s contact information. You can assign any of your custom ringtones to that person’s phone number. When they call, you’ll know right away who is calling you without looking.

Embarrassing: My Ringtone List from Amazon’s MP3 Store.

Over the Christmas break I found myself adding custom ringtones to my own iPhone for the first time. This is a little embarrassing to share, but here is an Amazon playlist widget with a few of the songs I’m carrying as ringtones on my own iPhone now:

Source: This tip is dedicated to my lovely wife, Melody, who received a new iPhone 3G for Christmas. She requested a tip showing her how to add Mama Mia as her custom iPhone ringtone. Here it is.

13 thoughts on “Custom Ringtones for your iPhone.

  1. Wow. What a nostalgic glow I just got from hearing Shock the Monkey and Who Can it Be Now? Wireless Tech writing has me delving into today’s generation so much that I’ve grown a yearning for Devo, Talking Heads and the Police. Thanks for your ever useful newsletter – and now I know how old you are. 😉

  2. Thank you so much. I got my iPhone 2 days ago and I couldnt figure it out. People said to use GarageBand but didnt say how… that you have shown me,I cant believe that I had so much trouble.

  3. Hello…I have been using this technique and enjoy it much. I’d like to add that tracks can be dragged directly from iTunes to GarageBand, no finder needed.

  4. I finally sat down, opened up garage band for the first time, and made 6 ring tones. I only stopped because it was getting late and I was tired.
    Thanks for the excellent tip and great directions.

  5. My English is not that great but I have read a couple of your post and I am very impressed considering I found your site on Yahoo by mistake.

  6. Great write up. The iPhone is truly awesome and I don’t like being without it. This time last year I had jumped in a pool with my iPhone and it was dead. I had to wait 10 days before I was able to purchasea new one. The phone I had was a cheap go phone. I really love all the games that can be downloaded to the iPhone. The best part about the iPhone to me is the ability to check emails on the fly. Thanks for the information.

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