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).
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: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1550
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.
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: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/show-or-hide-file-name-extensions
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!