How to save an iTunes track as a ringtone
One way to stand out from the crowd and personalise your iPhone is to use a custom ringtone, and we'll show you how to create your own and sync it to your iPhone.
You can even assign it to specific contacts so you know at once who's calling you. (If you've saved a picture in a person's entry in the Contacts app, your iPhone will display this when they call, as shown, but if you add a custom tone you won't even have to look!)
Best of all, it won't cost a penny. In the iTunes Store on your iPhone, you can tap More > Tones to shop for ringtones and alert sounds. But why would you want to pay again, even if it's just 69p or 99¢, for a song you've already bought?
We'll show you how to craft a ringtone from a track in your iTunes music library in minutes, for free. What about issues of copyright? Is it legal to create a ringtone from a track you already own the rights to play?
Since 2009, all songs offered by the iTunes Store (iTunes Plus Products) come with no usage restrictions, so there's no problem with these.
In the case of older tracks, it's always been permissible to copy a song to multiple devices and make backup copies. The only legal nicety would be that a ringtone is usually an excerpt from a complete song, which is technically not permitted (nor is editing, sampling or remixing, come to that).
That said, we don't think any music label would try to prosecute an individual for creating and using a ringtone – and even if it did, it would be laughed out of court. If you're worried, make sure you use an iTunes Plus track to create your ringtone as explained here, or just compose your own tune!
1. Note the snippet
First play your song in iTunes, and note the start and end times of the portion you want as your ringtone.
40 seconds is the maximum theoretical duration for a ringtone, though by default an iPhone will ring for only about 20 seconds or so before going to voicemail.
2. Specify start and end
Right-click the song in iTunes, select Get Info, then click the Options tab in the Info window. Make a note of the song's current "Stop Time" – you'll need it in the next step.
Now enter the start and end (stop) times from step 1, and click OK to save that segment.
3. Save a copy
Right-click the song in your library again, and select Create AAC Version to create a copy of the song with the new start and end times.
To avoid playback problems, now repeat step 2 to restore the start and stop times on the original file to the original values.
Don't get "Create AAC Version"? Go to iTunes > Preferences and on the General tab find "When you insert a CD".
Click Import Settings, then under "Import Using" select AAC Encoder, and for Setting choose iTunes Plus. Click OK in both dialogues to enable the option you need.
4. Remove from library
Right-click the new AAC copy and select Delete. If asked to confirm, click Delete Song. Then, when asked if you want to trash the file or keep it in the iTunes Media folder, click Keep File.
It will be removed from your iTunes library but the file won't be trashed.
5. Reimport as a ringtone
In Finder, locate the copied file (in your iTunes Media folder, in a folder named after the album it came from), and change the filename extension from .m4a to .m4r.
Then double-click the file to add it back into iTunes as a ringtone. Now you just need to sync it to your phone…
6. Sync to import tones
Connect your iPhone to your computer. Click its name (top right, or in the sidebar if you've opted to show it using the View menu), then click the Tones tab.
Tick Sync Tones and then All tones, and finally click Apply. Your new ringtone(s) will be installed on your iPhone.
7. Activate your ringtone
Want to make the track your default ringtone? On your iPhone, tap Settings > Sounds > Ringtone. Your new ringtone should appear in the list.
Simply tap it to set as your new default. Alternatively, you can use it to identify when a specific caller rings…
8. Custom ringtones
Back on the iPhone's Home screen, tap the Contacts app. Scroll to the contact you have in mind, tap their entry, then tap Edit.
Scroll down and tap "Ringtone" (it should currently read "Default"), select your custom ringtone, and tap Done to assign it to that contact.
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