How to Make Custom iPhone Ringtones with iTunes 7.5 and Audacity

Shortly after the release of iTunes 7.5 users noticed that the main difference between ringtones and regular audio files were their file extensions. Regular AAC files have the file extension .m4a, while ringtones use the file extension .m4r.

iTunes 7.5 will automatically create a new folder for storing ringtones in your music library the first time you open a .m4r file, provided you have the “Keep iTunes Music Folder Organized” option checked. This folder is where you’ll want to put your ringtone files, but first you’ll need to edit the song down to a suitable size. The size of an allowed ringtone on the iPhone tops out at around 3 megabytes.

For Mac users, there are several ways to whittle down your tracks. You could use Apple’s Quicktime Pro or Garageband if you have them. You can also edit MP3s in the free Audion 3, which features a nice waveform editing tool. Windows users can edit audio files with the free Audacity. Pick the 20 to 30 seconds you want to use as your ringtone, and save the file as an MP3.

  1. Add the shortened MP3 file to your iTunes library, then right-click on it in iTunes and choose “Convert Selection to AAC.” The clip will need to be an AAC file in order to be used as a ringtone.
  2. Right-click on the AAC converted file and choose “Show in Windows Explorer” to locate the converted file.
  3. Change the file extension from .m4a to .m4r, and double-click the .m4r file to play it in the “Ringtones” folder in your music library. This file will be added to your iTunes library automatically. (Some are reporting a size limit for the music file, so if you have trouble, using a smaller file may help)
  4. Finally, click on your iPhone in iTunes, and go to the Ringtones section. You should now see your new ringtone.
  5. If you want to be sure about the sync, feel free to click “Selected ringtones:” and check off the file explicitly, though this shouldn’t be required.
  6. Now SYNC your phone. You’re Done!

Since both Windows and Mac OS X like to hide file extensions, the renaming part can be tricky. Make sure you aren’t just appending a file extension to the hidden one. On a Mac, choose “Get Info” in the Finder and make sure “Hide extension” is unchecked. In Windows, make sure the “Hide extensions for known file types” option in Windows Explorer is turned off.

When you sync your iPhone, you should see the new ringtones displayed in your phone’s sound settings.

*Update* How to Make Custom iPhone Ringtones with Windows 7, iTunes 9 and Audacity 1.2.6


Posted on January 6, 2008, in iPhone, Ringtones, Web Dev and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 43 Comments.

  1. the problem is you can not move anything to file called “ringtones” in your library.

  2. did not work. Itune did make a file for the ringtone but the ihone would not sync!!! help please

  3. Please retry the following steps above. I guarantee it works!

  4. I shortened the file to 24 seconds and it finally worked for me. Try that!

  5. Thanks, Jade–this is exactly what I was looking for! It worked perfectly. I noticed that the only time it wouldn’t sync was if the mp3 file was too long. It makes sense, though. I made a ringtone from the intro to Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well,” and if someone were to call me and I made them wait until Mick Fleetwood’s cowbell before I answered, they’d have already hung up.

  6. Well I actually broke down and bought an iPhone after playing with a friends.
    And of course I’m trying to figure out how to do all the cool stuff. Yesterday I learned how to make custom ringtones for the iPhone. In this tutorial I will teach you how to also pwn the iPhone ringtone.

  7. Thank you very much for the tip!! This is the easiest way I’ve found to do this!

  8. no ringtone comes in the sound settings and there is no change in the storage memory. rest everything was done as explaned

  9. this did not work, it did not even go to the ringtone folder in itunes. what is the file size that works? mine is 366 kb

  10. robinson Guzman

    It works for me but when i put more then one ringtone it repeats it self on my custom list why is that?

  11. What about renaming the file?

  12. Why download a software to make ringtones when you can use iTunes.

    InstructionsDifficulty: Moderately Easy
    Things You’ll Need:
    Mac or Windows Computer
    Step1Open iTunes.
    Step2Find the song that you want to make into a ringtone.
    Step3Listen to the song and find the part of it you want to use. The chorus may be a good place to start.
    Step4Write down the start and stop times of the clip.
    Step5Right-click the song and select “Get Info.”
    Step6Click the “Options” tab.
    Step7Type in the start time of your ringtone in the text box next to “Start Time” in the minutes:seconds (i.e. 2:01) format.
    Step8 Type in the end time of your ringtone in the text box next to “Stop Time.” Make sure the ringtone is no more than 40 seconds long.
    Step9Click “OK”.
    Step10Right-click your song again and select “Convert Selection to AAC”. Wait for iTunes to convert your song. It will create a duplicate version.
    Step11Right-click the ringtone and select “Delete”.
    Step12Click on the “Keep Files” button.
    Step13Find the file. It’s usually in your User folder under Music > iTunes > iTunes Music and under the band’s name. It will have an extension of “m4a.”
    Step14 Replace the “m4a” extension of your ringtone with “m4r”. You can either double-click slowly to re-name your file, or right-click and select “Get Info” on a Mac or “Rename” on a Windows PC.
    Step15 Click “Use .m4r” or the PC equivalent when the system warns you that the change may affect the use of your file.
    Step16 Double-click the ringtone file. ITunes will automatically add it to your ringtones folder in your iTunes Music Library.
    Step17Connect your iPhone and sync your ringtones.

    Tips & Warnings
    For everyone having problems syching the ringtones to your iPhone: Find the ringtone in your Ringtones folder and change the extension back to .M4A & attempt to sych again.

    Instead of deleting it, you can also drag the newly converted ringtone to your desktop from iTunes and follow the rest of the steps.

    There may be some problems with the latest version of Leopard – renaming the file may not work properly, and you won’t be able to add it to the ringtones folder.

  13. Dre’s way of doing it works, thanks for the info dude. But once you change it from a m4a to a m4r you have to drag and drop it to the ringtones section of itunes then sync your phone

  14. i’m a bit confused re. Extension……how do you mean. please explain

  15. I have iTunes I have done as you suggested. I have the ringtone in my directory. I double click on it and nothing happens. However, my iTunes states that the only ringtone can be purchased form online.

    Am I stuck?

  16. josh from america

    These are joke instructions, they absolutly DO NOT WORK

  17. josh from america

    Ok It works, just took it 3 minutes, sorry for the lack of faith

  18. wasn’t appearing in the sounds > ringtones section for me at first, but that was because i made it too long. worked straight away when i shortened it.. thanks!

  19. i did everything as supposed but once i clik on the m4r in the finder, it does Not automaticly put it in any ringtone folder. As a mater of fact, i dont even have a rinhtone folder in itunes

  20. thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanks

  21. Works like a charm – I have iTunes 8.0, these step-by-step instructions still work.

    For those of you who are having trouble, re-read the instructions and try again. At least in my case, these instructions are spot on perfect.

    Thank you.

  22. T H A N K Y O U! worked perfectly…..

  23. If you are having trouble getting the clip into your itunes Ringtone folder, just drag it from the windows explorer into the folder. It is usually easier if you open the folder into a new window and the directly drag and drop into it! Hope this helps out!

  24. I have no idea where “Hide extensions for known file types” is.. specifics?

  25. If you’re having trouble with the above or are just looking for some more control/functionality, check this out:

  26. If your having trouble renaming the file. Just right click and rename the music file from your desktop. If you can’t see the file ext. then you need to go to your:

    Contol panel>Appearance & Personalization>Folder Options>Show Hidden Files and unclick (Hide Extension for Known File Type)

    This will help with renaming your music file M4a to M4r.

  27. Thanks!! Awesome post and works like a charm!!

  28. I am using itunes 9 with vista and I tried to change the file ext to m4r and all it does is add the extension into the songs name. Any suggestions on this would help it’s highway robbery to pay .99 cents for a ringtone to a song you already own.. Err Steve Jobs why why??

  29. I can confirm this still works with iTunes on Vista 64.

    @Dan – you have windows set to hide extensions of know file types (the default setting).

    Click the Start button, type “Folder Options” and click the top result. Click the View tab and in the Advanced Settings: pane, uncheck “Hide extensions for know file types” then click OK.

    Now you will see the full file name including it’s extension and can rename the extension.

  30. Im using Itunes 9 and it will let me edit the stop time but not the start time. It keeps defaulting it to zero 😦 Any ideas why any one?

    thanks in advance


  31. Thanks for the info guys – works a treat.

    Good to find detailed guides on t’internet, thanks.

  32. For Mac users:
    You can also make iPhone Ringtone with another guide!
    Just follow this guide:
    Make Customized Ringtone for Your iPhone (3GS) on Mac

  33. It works! Thank you heaps. Also lexito’s link was extremely helpful.

  34. fuck i love you 😀

  35. Bedding Collections ·

    most of the best ringtone sites are pay sites, does anyone know of a good free ringtone site? :,`

  36. Instructions worked flawlessly…thanks so much for posting this!!

  37. Just upload your audio file to and cut it yourself there. Free online ringtone maker

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