• How to set songs as audio ringtone files

    Illustration by headcase design
    Date:14 July 2013 Tags:, ,

    Q: I want to make a friend’s home guitar recording my ringtone but when I load it on to my phone, it doesn’t show up as a ring option. Is there a way to turn the file into something ringable? 

    A: The key is getting the phone to recognise the file as not just an audio file, but specifically a ringtone audio file. To do that, you can either use a mobile app or do some file finagling on a computer. Open iTunes on your computer and make a copy of the file by exporting an AAC version of it; with the song highlighted, choose Create New Version in the File menu. After the copy appears in iTunes, find the part of the song you want to use and mark down the start and stop times; keep it under 30 seconds.

    Right- or control-click the song and select Get Info, where you can enter those start and stop times. Then drag the clipped song onto the desktop. Before you forget, delete the copy in iTunes. If you’re using an Android phone, you’re almost done: just plug your phone into your computer and put the file into the phone’s Ringtones folder.

    To get the ringtone on to an iPhone, you need to trick the phone into recognising the track as a ringtone, not just a regular song. You can do this by changing the file extension to .m4r. Drag that newly named file back into iTunes, where it should appear under Ringtones. Next time you plug in your phone, make sure you have Sync Tones checked, then sync it. If you want to make a ringtone without plugging your phone into a computer – which you can do only on Android phones – you’ll need an app such as Ringdroid or Ringtone Slicer. These apps let you take a song (as long as it’s not copy-protected) that’s on your phone and trim it to ringtone length. You can do the same with the Ringer app for the iPhone, which can access any of the songs stored on your iPhone, but to work around Apple’s bias towards loading ringtones through iTunes, you’ll need to export the shortened and ringtone-formatted file (the app has an option for this), import it to iTunes on your computer, and sync your phone.

    By Rachael Z Arndt