Monday, April 25, 2011

Illustrated Guide: How to Make a Song Into a Ringtone (or Ring Tone) for an iPhone

OK, enough about diet and health.  Let's get some gadget discussion going.  I want to make a ringtone from the song Ceremony, by New Order.  I was hoping there would be some easy, automagical way to do it in iTunes, like "just right click on a song and choose 'turn into a ringtone', then win!"

But alas, it was not so.  Much to my surprise.  I really thought iTunes would have a capability to convert a song right into a ringtone.  Oh well.

I poked around on the interwebs and found this video that shows how to do this for 2G and 3G phones, but the methodology seemed like it was still applicable.  The problem was that to execute it, I needed a music editor.  After trying three highly-rated ones from CNET, I searched for iPhone 4-specific information and found this older, but much better, video of how to create a ringtone using only iTunes.

In case you do not want to watch the video, here is the summary:

NOTE: Remember you can click on any image to see the original size if the text is too small.

Create an AAC File of Your Desired Music Snippet

Open iTunes, select a song in your Music library, and then right click on it and choose Get Info.

In side the Get Info window, click on the Options tab and check the boxes for Start Time and Stop Time.  Make sure the total time is no more than 40 seconds. I decided to go with the first 40 seconds for the following example.  Again, you are not hurting the music file, just telling it to only pay attention to the first 40 seconds for now:

OK, so at this point you want to take a snapshot of the piece of music.  To do this, we close the Get Info window and then choose the Create AAC Version option, as shown below:

Create a Ringtone File From the Snippet

Click this and you should create a duplicate of that snippet of music.  You should now have two files for that song, one with the original duration and one with the shorter duration you just determined, as follows:

Now, simply drag this snippet to the Desktop.  This will create a duplicate.  You need to change the extension, so if you have "Hide extensions for known file types" checked in your Folder and Search Options, which is the default, then you will need to go uncheck it.  You can do this from any folder by clicking on Organize, then Folder and search options, and then clicking the View tab.  When you get there scroll down to "Hide extensions for known file types" and uncheck it, as shown below:

Now, just rename the file extension from ".m4a" to ".m4r".  You can also change the file name at this point if you like.  You will get the usual warning that this may make the file unstable, just click "OK" and accept the change.

Now you have a ringtone file.  In Windows 7, this immediately changes the icon for the file to reflect the word "Ring" on it.

Move the Ringtone to the iTunes Library

This step is easy, just drag the Ringtone file over the word "Library" in the iTunes menu an drop it there.

Note: If you do not have a Ringtones library yet, it will create one automatically when you do this.

Wrap Up

A few steps to finish
  1. Restore: Go back to the original song and uncheck the boxes for Start time and Stop time.
  2. Clean up: Go back to your iTunes Music folder and delete the snippet of music that you used to create the ringtone.
  3. Sync with your iPhone so it has the ringtone
  4. Set your ringtone for whatever you like

Thank you to mattzo72 for creating such a useful and informative video.

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