How To Create Ringtones From Your iTunes Library and Add Them To Your Phone

A reader asked about creating ringtones from her iTunes library and adding them to her phone. She didn’t mention what operating system she was using or the make of her phone. These instructions work in Mavericks and on iPhones running iOS 7.

Note: Be sure and select songs you have purchased through iTunes otherwise this won’t work for you.

1.  Find the song in iTunes that you want to turn into a ringtone. For this example I’m using “Hello Darlin” by Conway Twitty. Right-click on it and select Get Info.

2.  In the window that opens, select the Options tab.


Choose the part of the song that you want to use and select a start time and an end time. There are limits set on the length of ringtones so stick with a maximum of 30 seconds to make sure your’s  works.

The easiest way to do this is to start your ringtone with the beginning of the song. That way you can set a start time of 0.00. If that is not what you want you just have to figure the start of the section you want to use, such as a fancy guitar riff.

The best way that I know to do that is to start the song playing and watch the timer at the top of the window.


When the timer gets to the point you want to select, enter that specific increment in the start time and add 30 seconds to that number.

3. Right-click on the song that you have just edited and then choose Create AAC Version. This will create a shortened version of your song in Apple’s AAC format. Don’t worry that you are cutting up your original song. It stays just the same. The new short version will be listed under the original version. You can pick it out because the time will show 0:30.


4. Drag the new ringtone version to your desktop. If it doesn’t delete from iTunes at this point, just delete it because the new version won’t go into Tunes if it is still there. Find it and change the file ending from .m4a to .m4r. You might also want to add the word ringtone to the file name just to keep everything clean.

5. Drag the file that is now named .m4r back into iTunes and drop it in the Tones folder.

ringtones4Open the Tones folder and you should see your new ringtone. Before you proceed to upload the new ringtone to your phone, you should go back to the original version of the song, right-click, and open the Options tab again. You need to remove that 30 second end time you put in place or your original song won’t play through to the end.

Get It On Your iPhone

Now all you have to do is sync your tones to your iPhone.

Connect your iPhone to your Mac and open iTunes. Navigate to the Tones tab. Be sure to click in the box next to Sync Tones and mark the ones you want on your phone.


Then click on the Apply button and you should be all set. Open your iPhone and choose  settings > sounds > Ringtone. In the listing of possible ringtones you should see the ones you just added at the top of the list. Click next to the one you want to use and it is a done deal.

Assign The Ringtone To A Specific Individual

If you like to assign different ringtones to individuals the process has not really changed. Choose your phone list and select the individual from the Contacts list. Click on the Edit option and scroll down to “Ringtone”, select your ringtone of choice, and tap the “Done” option in the upper right corner.

This entry was posted in Beginner Mac Tips, iOS 7 Tips, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone Tips, Mac Tips and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to How To Create Ringtones From Your iTunes Library and Add Them To Your Phone

  1. Sam says:

    Wow thanks to Nancy and whoever sent in that request! I didn’t know you could do that. I’m so excited. Hopefully I don’t hit any snags.

    • macnancy says:

      I’m so glad you liked it Sam. My favorite ringtone is a Willie Nelson song. When my phone rings and someone looks at me funny, I just say “Willie’s calling”. LOL

  2. beth jolly says:

    After a one hour call to Apple support whose iPhone expert could not tell me how to convert a ringtone purchased in 2009 to my iPhone. I just purchased a new iMac with Mavericks. I was able to convert an m4a file to an m4r file and get the ringtone to my iPhone with your posting. It did take me several attempts and three hours, but I did it. I am a senior, who is not to old to learn. I refused to give up. Thank God! Thank you.

  3. dogwuff says:

    Followed instruction on Mac (Mavericks) and can get as far as dragging to the desktop but it won’t drag or copy to the Tones folder. Only full version left in library. Any ideas please?

    • macnancy says:

      The only reason I can think of that would cause the problem you are having is that you are working with a song that you did not purchase from iTunes. I ran into the same problem the first time I tried this. May I suggest that try the steps with another song, one you know you purchased from iTunes and see if that works for you. If you know for sure that you used a song purchased from iTunes then the only thing I can think of is to start the process over and try again. Please let me know if you get it to work.

      • dogwuff says:

        Thanks, and apologies for delay in replying but I have been away.

        You were right – it wasn’t from iTunes though I thought it was. I have managed to do this – much more simply – using the Garageband app.

  4. Sheila G says:

    will this work with a audio file I made myself of my grandson saying ” I love you Rizzy”…. it’s only 9 sec long and it repeats 3 times….
    I made it into an m4r and its in my “ringtones” in my iphone 6 but I set it to my daughters number, and when she calls it still just rings like the Old Phone….
    The same file worked on my iphone 4…..
    when I click to listen to the file in the phone now, It plays for me like the rest…
    there is a solid grey line under it though, not sure what that means.

    • macnancy says:

      Hi Sheila,

      What a great ringtone idea! I wish I could tell you how to make it work on your iPhone 6, but I don’t know the answer. Research everything you can find on-line about ringtones iPhone 6 and maybe you will find something. Good luck. If you find something and share it with me, I will let everyone else know as well.

      • Sheila G says:

        I followed theses instructions and Got it to work! I have had this ringtone “I love you Rizzy” since my grandson was 2and a half…..I just had to have it…And these were a little technical instructions, but I did it….it was so worth it to! here is the link to the site that I followed. It took a few hours for it to start ringing…it would just go to the default ringer, but the next day it started to work right.


      • macnancy says:

        Thank you for sharing what you found. I will post it tonight. I have a 2-½ year old grandson that I get to keep while his parents work. He is such a joy. My other two grandchildren are in their late 20’s and I have great grandchildren, but having him here so much is so precious.


  5. Alyssa says:

    I created the ringtone, with a song I bought off of iTunes, but it still won’t drag into my tones on iTunes. Help! 😦

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.