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Make an iPhone Ringtone with iTunes
While you can convert songs to ringtones in iTunes for $0.99, you can just as easily do it for free with a few more clicks. you'll need an unprotected song in iTunes for this to work (that is, a .m4a or .mp3 file, not .m4p). To turn it into a ringtone:
- Find the section of the song you want to use as a ringtone, and mark down the starting and ending time of that section. It should be less than 30 seconds long.
- Right click on the track and hit "Get Info". Under the Options tab, set your Start Time and Stop Time to the correct values for the ringtone and hit OK.
- Right click on the song and choose "Convert Selection to AAC". If it says "Convert Selection to MP3" or "Apple Lossless" instead, head to iTunes' Preferences, hit Import Settings, and switch it to the AAC Encoder and try again.
- You should see the newly converted file pop up in iTunes, and it should be much shorter than the original. Right click on it and pick "Show in Windows Explorer" (or "Show in Finder" if you're on a Mac). Change the extension of the file from .m4a to .m4r.
- Head back into iTunes and delete the shortened version of the song you just created. Since you changed the extension, iTunes won't be able to find the file and will just remove it from your library. Then go to File > Add File to Library and navigate to the .m4r file you just created. It should show up in the Ringtones section of iTunes.
The next time you sync your iPhone, your new ringtone should show up in Settings > Sounds > Ringtones. If you want to set different ringtones for specific contacts, you can head to the Contacts app, edit the contact you want to change, and choose a ringtone for them under "Ringtone".
If you want finer control over when your ringtone starts and ends, you can use GarageBand too, but only if you're on a Mac. The above instructions should work for users on both Windows and OS X.
Make an Android Ringtone with Ringdroid
On Android, you can download one of many apps to create a custom ringtone. We're going to use Ringdroid. After downloading and installing it from the Market, the process is simple:
- Open up Ringdroid. You'll see a list of every audio file on your device (if the song you want to use isn't on your device, you'll have to transfer it to your device). Pick the song you want to play and let Ringdroid load it.
- Tap and drag the two grey sliders to select the portion of the song you want to turn into a ringtone. It can be of any length. You can click Play at any time to hear it from the start of your selection.
- Hit the Save button and give your ringtone a name. It will now show up in your phone's ringtone menus.
To set the ringtone for your entire phone, just head to Settings > Sound > Phone Ringtone. If you want to set it for a specific contact, you can just open up that contact in the Contacts app, hit the Menu button, choose Options and tap Ringtone.
There are many ways to create your own ringtone on both platforms, but these are two pretty simple options that don't require paying money. Just make sure that you keep your phone on silent or vibrate when necessary — there's nothing more embarrassing than being the guy who's pocket starts singing Miley Cyrus in the middle of Starbucks. Got your own preferred ringtone creation method? Let us know about it in the comments below.