How to Set a Custom Ringtone on iPhone

Time to get rid of that annoying ringtone.

How to Set a Custom Ringtone on iPhone

iPhones are the first smartphones launched a long time ago, and they are so popular that there are waiting times that sometimes stretch to a few months.

They are also known for their less customizable options, which Android sure makes fun of. And given the way things are, they should, as adding your custom ringtones get tricky – but it’s not impossible.

The simple way to set a ringtone is to use the pre-existing ones or buy ringtones from iTunes.

But why spend money when you can create your own with iTunes and GarageBand?

This article will help you in setting custom ringtones with a step-by-step approach.

How to set a custom ringtone on iPhone

Below are two main methods to set a custom ringtone on iPhone. The first one is slightly complicated, while the second one is relatively easier.

Method 1: Use Ringtone Apps

Change iPhone’s default ringtone to a custom ringtone using ringtone apps. Most of these apps are free and available on App store.

Download Best Ringtone Apps for iPhone:

Method 2: iTunes

If you have a modern iPhone, you rarely have to use iTunes unless you want to create a custom ringtone. The song/tune cannot be from Apple Music, as its tracks cannot be converted to AAC. Mac users would be happy to know that iTunes is already installed and ready to go.

As for Windows users, you’ll need to download the latest version of iTunes from Apple. The following procedure is the same for MacBooks and Windows PC.

MacBooks with macOS Catalina don’t support iTunes, so you should check out the second method.

First of all, you’ll need a sound clip ready as you’ll be converting and using it as your ringtone. The file mustn’t be a song; you can also use the Voice Memos app on your iPhone to use people’s voices to turn into ringtones.

The ringtone file must be 40 seconds long as iTunes will refuse to copy ringtones longer than 40 seconds to your iPhone.

Also, ensure that you listen to the track first and note down when you want it to start. If the file is long and you just want to use a part of it, you can trim it down with an audio editor.

Let’s get to the process:

Step 1: Launch iTunes.

Step 2: Select the Options tab and click on the Start and Stop boxes in the separate window opening.

Step 3: Now, punch in the times you want the ringtone to start and stop. If you want the ringtone to start from the very beginning, leave the Start box as it is.

The stop time should be set at 30 seconds, as that’s the maximum length for a ringtone for an iPhone.

Step 4: Choose the song again by clicking once on it.

Step 5: Go to the File menu > Convert > Create AAC version. If you can’t see an option to create an AAC version, you change this by going to the Edit menu and choosing Preferences.

Step 6: Tap on Import Settings next to ‘When you insert a CD.’

Step 7: SelectAAC Encoder from the drop-down menu next to ‘Import using:.’

Step 8: Click on the original album that contains the song and right-click on it.

Step 9: Now, tap on Song info and click the Options tab.

Step 10: Make sure you untick the start and stop times to return them to their original times. After this is done, click OK.

Step 11: Now, locate the duplicate track that you will use as a ringtone. Here, right-click on the song in the album and click Show in Windows Explorer, and Mac users should use the Show in Finder option.

Step 12: In the next step, you’ll change the file’s extension to .m4a from .aac. Windows users should enable the file extension if they don’t see it.

Just go to the file and change the extension from .m4a to .m4r. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac). You can also click on some white space.

Step 13: Confirm with Yes when asked if you want to change the extension.

Step 14: The next step is syncing your new ringtones to your iPhone in the latest version of iTunes.

Step 15: Connect your phone to your computer with its USB cable. Windows users should tap on ‘Trust this computer’ when it pops up on their iPhone screen. You may require unplugging and re-plugging the USB cable if this message doesn’t show up unless you’ve done this step previously.

Step 16: Open your iPhone in iTunes or Finder.

Step 17: Drag the M4R file to your iPhone.

Step 18: Now tap on Sync. When your iPhone is finished syncing, you can unplug your iPhone from the computer.

Step 19: To set the edited track as your ringtone, open your iPhone’s Settings.

Step 20: Scroll down and tap on Sounds & Haptics.

Step 21: Click on Ringtones.

Step 22: Scroll till you see your ringtone’s name. You can set your new ringtone for a specific contact, which is handy and makes the caller distinctive.

Step 23: To do so, go to the Contacts app on your iPhone.

Step 24: Tap the contact’s name you want to assign the ringtone.

Step 25: Click on Ringtone.

Step 26: Now, select the ringtone and tap on Done.

The gruesome process is now over. If you don’t want to use a computer or even iTunes, the following method is for you.

Method 2: GarageBand

GarageBand is a free app that comes built into modern iPhones. It’s about 1.6GB in size, and the app icon is a guitar.

To use this method, the song should be on your iPhone, and it can be a whole song as it will be trimmed in this app. You can’t use songs from Apple music are these tracks are ‘protected’ – they must not have DRM (digital rights management).

Moreover, you can’t just open a song in GarageBand, and the app is designed for creating songs, not making ringtones. But we are going to do that anyway.

Step 1: Launch GarageBand. If it’s not on your iPhone, download it from the App Store. The app is set in landscape mode, just FYI.


Step 2: After the app is launched, click on the Plus (+) icon at the top right.

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Step 3: You will now see a variety of instruments.

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Step 4: Swipe till you see Audio Recorder in the Tracks tab.

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Step 5: Open the instrument in the Multitrack view by clicking on the icon that resembles a stack of bricks at the top left.

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Step 6: On the right of the toolbar at the top, you’ll see a Loop icon between Settings and Undo. Tap on it.


Step 7: Select a song from the Files app or iCloud Drive. To select one from Apple Music, hit Music.


Step 8: Press down on the file and drag it into the multitrack window.


Step 9: You can edit the track as you seem fit. The ringtone should be of a maximum of 30 seconds, so abide by that rule.


Step 10: Click on the downward arrow located at the top left corner.


Step 11: Tap on My Songs.


Step 12: Click on the first box.

Step 13: Rename the file.


Step 14: Click on Share. Here you’ll see three main options. Choose the Ringtone format.


Step 15: Now, tap on Export at the top right.


Step 16: Wait a few seconds for the file to be exported. When the process is done, select Use sounds and tap on what you want to use the sound for.

Step 17: Click on Done, and now you’ve set your custom ringtone.


Can I set a custom ringtone on my iPhone?

You can set a custom ringtone for all your contacts, even individually.

Is there a ringtone maker for iOS?

Unfortunately, no, there isn’t a ringtone maker for iOS. But if you want to make your songs and set those as ringtones or wish to make a ringtone out of an existing song, GarageBand is the best app for both scenarios.

Can I download a ringtone and assign it to a contact?

Even if you download a ringtone, you’d still need iTunes and GarageBand to set it as a ringtone.

Are there any in-app purchases for GarageBand?

No, GarageBand is an entirely free app that will help you make high-quality ringtones.


This is how you can set a custom ringtone on your iPhone.

The first method is a tad bit cumbersome, but if you do it repeatedly, you’ll get used to it. The second method is relatively easy and if you want to create a custom ringtone just once or twice, go for it.

I know that the experience of setting a custom ringtone for Android users is way different and less complex; this is iPhone we are talking about. When you bought one, you were already aware of its walled-garden approach.

I am an ambivert, an avid reader, a movie buff, a tea connoisseur, and a staunch fan of Priyanka Chopra Jonas. I like to give my insights through words, which come naturally to me. They also help me to express the myriads of emotions I go through. When not working, I'm either watching the latest tech videos or flipping through pages.