Use iTunes 7.4 To Import (Almost) Anything as a Ringtone [Updated Solution]

This tip is outdated. Please see this new tip for updated instructions. We all know that the new iTunes adds the ability to create custom ringtones and buy them from the iTunes store. What you probably don’t know is that you can easily add your own ringtones as well. By now I’m sure that, with great tools such as iFuntastic and iToner available, a large majority of us already have ringtones ready to go. For all you folks too scared to hack your iPhone, this is a great semi-Apple supported way of adding ringtones for free.

The first step is to find a song you want to make a ring tone. The easiest way is to use the technique from an earlier tip, grabbing them straight from the iTunes Store. Sure feels like sticking it to the man, eh? You can also take any audio you have, just as long as it’s encoded in the AAC format (.m4a).

The next step is to rename said file to .m4r, which is the iTunes ringtone format. To do this on the Mac, go to the Finder Menu and click “Preferences”. Go to “Advanced” and check “Show all file extensions”. Once you’ve done that, you can freely rename your audio file to .m4r. You should be able to rename it in a similar way on Windows.

All you have to do now is drop your new file into iTunes, and that’s it! Next time you plug in your iPhone, you’ll have the audio you just added available as ringtones. You can sync all or some of them right through iTunes. No hacking required. Now that’s sweet!

Update: In iTunes version 7.4.1 this method has been crippled. However, there is a work-around. After you’ve added your .m4r file, you will need to rename it to .m4a in the iTunes/iTunes Music/Ringtones/ folder. Once you do that, double click them again and they will work. To add more ringtones, you will need to follow the original instructions and then change your file back to .m4a. I’m not sure how this all works exactly, but there’s something about this process that marks the file as a ringtone. Go figure.

Things I don’t know about this method:

  • How iTunes manages the ringtones

  • How to delete them

Things I do know about this method:

  • It only works with AAC audio files

  • The .m4r extension is key
  • Files are stored in iTunes/iTunes Music/Ringtones/
  • This works on both Mac and PC
  • It’s really easy


Update #2: Check out this new tip to see how to create free ringtones using nothing but iTunes.

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