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Ringtones for the iPhone: Buy, Find, or Create

written by: MikeWehner•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 6/29/2010

Nobody can blame you for wanting some new ring music, especially considering that the iPhone itself only comes with a couple of handfuls of default selections. No worries though, we can take care of that with a few very simple steps.

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    What are my options?

    When it comes to putting new ringtones on your iPhone, you have a number of different options, each with varying degrees of cost:

    1. Buy Ringtones - This is perhaps the simplest method of getting new ringtones onto your iPhone, but it comes with an upfront cost as well. iTunes offers its own ringtones marketplace where you can buy a huge number of songs and sound bytes in ringtone format. The benefit of using this method is that, while it is not free, it adds the new ringtones to your device on the next sync automatically.

    2. Download Free Ringtones - This method is pretty straightforward, but it will require a little more digging to find what you're looking for. If you're simply on the hunt for new sound effects and ringers, you'll find plenty of websites that cater to this, and many of them will let you download user-made ringtones for free. There are a couple things to watch out for, however, when using this method. The first is that, as always, whenever you are downloading something from a website and putting it onto an electronic device, there are risks involved. Make sure the site is legit, and never give out personal information for the sake of a free download.

    The second is to make sure the ringtones you are downloading are in an M4R format. This is the ringtone format that the iPhone uses, and is not compatible with any others. Once you have downloaded the M4R files, simply click 'File -> Add To Library' within iTunes, find the files you downloaded, and import them into iTunes. On your next sync you should have your new ringtones installed.

    3. Jailbreak / Use Cydia - This method is the most risky, as you are actually modifying the iPhone itself just for new ringtones. However, if this is the method you are interested in, we have a handy guide for that as well.

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    Those aren't for me, I want to create my own!

    Believe it or not, it's actually a fairly simple process to turn music you already own through iTunes into custom ringtones. Just follow these steps and you'll be rocking out to unique ringtones in no time!

    1. The first step in creating a ringtone from a song you already own is finding it in iTunes. Once you find the song you want to use, right-click on it to bring up the menu. From this menu, click "Get Info" or "Properties", depending on what operating system you are using. From here, click "Options" to bring up the Start/Stop Time specifications. In order to make a ringtone for your iPhone, the clip needs to be 30 seconds or less. Pick the 30-second section of the song you want to use and click "Apply".

    2. Now, find the song in iTunes once again, and right-click on it as well. This time, you're going to want to click "Create AAC Version". You should now hear a tone signifying your file is being created, and shortly thereafter your file will pop up below the original. You have now created a 30-second clip of your future ringtone.

    3. Right-click on the new file and click "Locate in Finder" or "Locate in Explorer". Once you have found the file, you'll notice it is in M4A format. We're going to need to change that, so click it and change the file extension to M4R.

    4. Now, find the 30-second file in iTunes again and delete it from the iTunes library. Do NOT delete the file from the computer though!

    5. Find the ringtone clip in your Finder again and double click it. It will now be automatically added to your iPhone Ringtone playlist, and will sync to your device the next time you connect it to iTunes!