How To Make Your Own Ringtones For the iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5 Using iTunes (Windows)

Editor’s Note: I have updated the title of this post to include the iPhone 5 after a reader posted a comment stating they were having trouble getting this process to work. After testing this process out for the iPhone 5 I was able to successfully follow the same steps and create a ringtone for the iPhone 5 (using a PC running Windows 7 and the latest iTunes software available).

I have noticed on various message boards that there are still a lot of iPhone owners that are having trouble making their own ringtones despite the abundance of how-to videos and tutorials available on the internet. This is my attempt at trying to help others out. This method works for me with no trouble at all so hopefully it will help others!

1: Create Your Ringtone Clip

You can use any eligible song already in your iTunes library as long as it is in AAC format (You can check what format your song is in by right clicking on the song in iTunes, selecting “Get Info” and looking at the Summary tab. You can also look at the “Kind” column in iTunes if you have that showing).

 aac format

If the song is not in AAC format you will need to convert it. Please see the following link for info on how to do so:

Pick what clip of the song you would like to use as your ringtone. Keep in mind that the clip needs to be about 20-30 secs in length or it may not sync to your iPhone. Note the start time and the end time of the section of the song you want to use. For example, I chose to use the portion of the song that started at 0:38 and ended at 0:55. Right click on the song and select “Get Info”. Go to the “Options” tab and change the start and end times to reflect the clip that you want. Click “OK”. Don’t worry, you can change this back when you are done and your song will play as normal.

change time

Right click on the song again and select “Create AAC Version”. You will see a new version of the song with a shorter time in iTunes. (You can go back to the original one and return the start and end times to normal by taking the check marks out of each box and clicking “Ok”)

2: Change File Extension


Right click on the shortened clip and select “Show in Windows Explorer”. A box will pop up that will show every version of that song (in my case there are 3 now. There may only be 2 for you). Click on the title of the song (it should already be highlighted). This  will allow you to change the file extension. Change the .m4a portion to .m4r. If the file extension is not showing you will need to turn this feature on in order to continue. Please go to the following link to see how to do this:

file extension

 A warning box will pop up. Click “Yes”.


Double click on the file. It will begin to play in iTunes. The file has successfully been made into a ringtone and will show in the “Tones” section of iTunes. You can now connect your iPhone to your computer and sync the ringtone. Assign it as your default ringtone or to individual contacts!


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21 Responses to How To Make Your Own Ringtones For the iPhone 4/4s and iPhone 5 Using iTunes (Windows)

  1. Julie says:

    Tried this for the iPhone 5, and it would not create a tone. Any thoughts?

    • I will try to do this real quick and let you know if it works the same.

    • Ok, I just went through the process and was able to get it to work for the iPhone 5 also. I am using a PC running Windows 7 and using the latest iTunes software available. Of course, since the iPhone 5 just released any of us with it are using the same iOS 6 software. What happens when you try to do it?

  2. Julie says:

    Nothing… can’t move it into the tones folder. I’ll try it again. I even downloaded an app for ringtones, and that didn’t work either. User error? possible, but I hope not.

    • Julie says:

      sorry – doesn’t show in Tones folder.

      • Julie says:

        Maybe figured it out – works for songs purchased on iTunes. Doesn’t seem to work for songs downloaded from CD into iTunes.

      • The song I tested was not purchased from iTunes. You have to make sure the song you are working with is properly converted to an AAC file before you can convert it to an .m4r (ringtone) file. Otherwise it will not work. I am not at my computer right now but I believe I discussed this in the tutorial also. Look at the file you are having trouble with and tell me what type of file it is (AAC/mp4, mp3, etc).

  3. Bonnie says:

    I created a tone, but I can’t get it into the ringtones on my I phone 4s. Any suggestions?

    • It could either be the format of the ringtone (make sure it is an .m4r like my tutorial states) or it could be the length of the ringtone. If it is the right format try shortening the length of the tone to see if it will transfer over. I have noticed that some tones can go a little over 30 secs and some can’t…I think it has to do with the overall size also. If the tone shows up under “tones” in iTunes you know that it is the right format…so chances are it is the length.

      • Bonnie says:

        It’s an .m4r and it shows up under “tones” in ITunes. It’s only 17 seconds long, but it still won’t transfer to my phone.

      • I’m not sure what the problem is. Do you get an error message when trying to sync them? Usually, if a file won’t sync a message pops up to say so. The only other thing I can suggest is creating a different ringtone to see if the same issue exists. If you don’t mind telling me, what song are you using it? If I have it in my library I can try it and see what my results are. I tested another ringtone tonight and the process still works perfectly fine with me even after updating to the latest iOS 6 update.

      • Bonnie says:

        I’m using Hunter Hayes song “Wanted.” I just picked a section of the refrain from 2:04 to 2:21.

  4. Bonnie says:

    Just tried “As Good as I Once Was,” by Toby Keith. They are in my tones library, I checked sync tones and chose all tones and synced my phone,but when I go to settings and ringtones on my phone, they aren’t there.

    • pat says:

      i am having the same issue.

      • I just followed the steps again creating a new ringtone (I used Solange “Losing You” and created a 34 second clip). I then connected my iPhone 5 (iOS 6.0.1) and dragged the new ringtone to my iPhone (I manually manage my iPhone). It synced just as all of my others have and it shows (and plays) on my iPhone when selected via Settings–>Ringtones. It does not show under Text Tone or any of the other selections where you can change the tone because of it’s length (I would need to cut it below 30 secs). This is the same thing that occurred with a tone I created for voice mail use….the original clip was 30 secs long but it would not show under voice mail tones. I had to keep tweaking it until it would show. In this particular instance (Maroon 5 “Nothing Lasts Forever”) I had to cut it down to 17 secs for it to show. This is the only case that I can duplicate the issue that you all are saying that you have…with created tones not appearing to be synced to my device when I look through the phone. Otherwise, I have no idea what the issue may be assuming that you have the latest iPhone iOS update (although this still worked for me prior to the latest update also), the latest iTunes and your Windows iOS is not too old (not sure what would constitute as too old except for anything that is not listed as the minimum Windows OS to use)

  5. Rossana says:

    How can you do this for Mac OSX 10.6.6? I don’t have Windows.

    • I don’t use a Mac so I am not quite sure of the steps for it. I would guess your best bet would be to do an internet search to see if a tutorial for your OS will help you.

      • pat says:

        what seems to be your average file size for the ringtone files that successfully transfer to the phone? the only one i’ve tried so far, which shows in the itunes library tones section but doesnt transfer over is 852 KB.

      • I have about 75 ringtones so the file size ranges, but on average I would say they are in the 850-900 KB range….but there are a few that I have looked at that are well over that and transfer successfully. One example is a ringtone that is 27 seconds long sized at 1,018 KB at bitrate 256 kpbs(VBR) and the sample size is 44.100 kHZ. Almost all of my ringtones are set at 256 kpbs (VBR) with the sample size showing as 44.100 kHZ if that makes a difference. There are only 3 that I am aware of that are bitrate 128 kpbs (VBR) and they are that way because they were free downloads from the Geico website (ringtones from some of their popular commercials such as the squealing pig and the talking pot hole). Not sure if it will help but you can try changing your import settings under preference in iTunes to see if that helps. I went with Custom and chose Stereo Bitrate 256, Sample rate 44.100 kHZ, Channels Auto, and checked Use Variable Bit Rate Encoding (VBR). Again, not sure if this will help but for me, my ringtones all transfer successfully.

      • pat says:

        must have been my itunes update. i had updated it the other day and hadnt restarted my computer until tonight. went to the tones section of the device in itunes, clicked sync, and now it’s there. thanks for your help!

  6. James says:

    In our time there are millions ringtone makers of any kind, thank for this native way to make ringtones for iphone, but I prefer more simple way … I use this to make or download already made m4r files, and then just sync my sweety 😉

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