There’s something about Android phones that isn’t exactly available with iPhones and my buddies who have an Android phone do make fun of it: you can’t easily have custom ringtones on the iPhone. Now, that’s something Apple should be working on but knowing things, one would judge better.

Apple doesn’t have an easy way out to create custom ringtones. But as the saying goes, it’s tough but not impossible. In this short little post, that’s what we’re going to do: create custom ringtones in iTunes and sync them with your iPhone.

The Thing About Creating Custom iPhone Ringtones in iTunes

Okay, you’ll first need to know the thing about iTunes ringtones. Unlike on most other smartphones, you can’t just have any file saved as a ringtone. There are a couple of things to do before:

  • Create an AAC version of the tone that you want as custom ringtone
  • Change the file extension from .m4a to .m4r so it’s recognized as a ringtone by iTunes
  • It shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds (it’s 40 but having it at 30 makes it safer)

So let’s make some ringtones (follow this procedure if you’re trying to make a ringtone out of a song you have)

Step 1). Open iTunes and find that song that you want to make a ringtone out of. For safety, duplicate this and have it so if something goes wrong, you don’t end up losing that song.

Step 2). Now, right-click and select ‘Get Info’

Create Custom iPhone Ringtones in iTunes Step 1

Step 3). Select the Options tab and you have ‘Start time’ and ‘Stop Time’ check boxes.

Create Custom iPhone Ringtones in iTunes Step 2

Step 4). Check them and enter the desired start and stop time for the ringtone. Make sure it doesn’t exceed 30 seconds.

Step 5). Click OK to apply the settings.

Step 6). Head back to iTunes library and right-click on the song you just edited.

Step 7). Select ‘Create AAC version’

Create Custom iPhone Ringtones in iTunes Step 3

Step 8). Now you got a .m4a version of the song. It’s time to rename the extension.

Step 9). Go to the folder where the .m4a version of the file is. (Select the file, click ‘File’ menu and select ‘Show in Finder’ (for Mac) or ‘Show in Explorer’ (Windows)

Step 10). Rename the extension to “.m4r”
(Note: if you don’t see the .m4a extension along with the file, you should make sure it’s visible and then change the extension. Otherwise, you’d just be changing the name of the file and not its extension. (Tools -> Options in Windows lets you enable the extensions view).

Step 11). After you’ve renamed the extension to .m4r, head back to iTunes and check the “Tones” section. Your new ringtone should be out there. (if not, drag-drop)

Sync your iPhone with “Sync Tones” enabled and your new ringtone should be up on your iPhone too.


In case you already have a ringtone (not longer than 40 seconds), you can do this:

  • Open it in iTunes
  • Create an AAC version of the file (.m4a)
  • Rename the extension to .m4r
  • Now, check the Tones section to find your new ringtone.

If it’s not added, drag and drop the ringtone in iTunes

  • Shannon Seals Esopenko

    Hi, I cannot get the m4a to change to the m4r extension. I am on windows 8 and iTunes 11 and this step seems to have disappeared. The ringtone will play in my iTunes but it will not recognize it as a ringtone and I can’t get it to show up in my ringtone section…help! :)

    • Chandrashekhar

      Are you sure you’re changing the extension of the file and not just the file name? Check out this one to make sure you’ve changed the file extension to m4r.
      once you change the extn, you should be able to drag and drop the m4r file into iTunes’s Tones.

  • Michael

    “Sync Tones”

    Yes, the two little words that created a stretch of time longer than I care to repeat of frustration. Sync tones.

    See kids…. read everything before you yell at technology…..

  • Lindsey Newman

    I have done all of the above steps (I am on Mac/Itunes 11) and my file is still showing as “AAC Audio File” and not appearing in Tones. I never had this problem on my PC, but now I can’t get it to work on my Mac… :-/

    • iGeeksBlog

      Did you drag-drop the file into the Tones section? And is the tones 30 seconds long? not more, right?

      • Lindsey Newman

        Yes, and they are less than 30 seconds.

        • TebiCake

          The same thing happened to me too. I fiddled with things some more and it worked: delete both the file and the ‘song’ in iTunes before dragging your new m4r file. If not, change the m4r’s name and drag-drop as usual

  • Eduardo Resende 

    There is a much easier way without iTunes or computer, using an app called ToneConvert, follow this video tutorial: