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iPhone: How to Create Free Ringtones

Any nonprotected audio file can be turned into a ringtone to use on your iphone for free. Here is how to create your own free ringtones for your apple phone. New updates and fixes included.

See Update at bottom for information regarding iTunes 7.4.1.

Although you can buy ringtones from iTunes, you can also make ringtones for your iphone for free. This tutorial will show you how to convert any unprotected audio file (wav, mp3, etc) into a ringtone.

1. Get access to the mp3 or wav file that you want to convert to a ringtone. In my example, I am looking for a rock drummer loop as a ringtone for my friend who is a monkey percussionist.

2. Drag the file into iTunes

3. Select the file in iTunes and then select Convert Selection to AAC in the Advanced menu.

4. Select your new AAC file and select Show in Finder in the File menu

5. In finder, select the file and select Get Info from the File menu

6. Change the file extension from .m4a to .m4r

7. Confirm when the dialog asks if you really want to make the change

8. Drag the new file back into iTunes. The original files will remain but the ringtone will disappear. (It is actually being moved to following location: ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Ringtones )

9. Connect your iPhone and select the Ringtone tab. Select the new ringtone that has been created.

10. Now sync your iphone with iTunes.

11. In your iPhone assign the ringtone to whomever you wish.


If you are having trouble, delete the original m4a files from iTunes (but do not move them to the trash) before dragging them back into iTunes again. This has fixed problems for me several times.

The file must not be copy protected so using a typical song off of itunes will not work. Also, files longer than 3 megs may not work.


iTunes 7.4.1 breaks this little hack but you can fix it again. Goto your ringtone directory (~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music/Ringtones ). Rename the m4r files back to m4a files and then resync. Your custom ringtones should be working again.

David Kirk
David Kirk
David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.


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