How To Easily and Quickly Create Custom Ringtones for the iPhone on a Mac

I’ve recently become fully entrenched in Apple’s suite of technology products with the iPhone 4 being my most recent purchase.  I’ve grown to love Apple over the past few months after being a PC/Android guy for most of my adult life.  Most everything works the way I want it to on my iPhone 4 except for the fact that getting custom ringtones on it is way more cumbersome than it should be.  I get Apple’s controlling mentality, but the fact that iPhone users can’t customize ringtones easily, or even use custom tones for SMS/Mail messages makes no sense to me.

Luckily iPhone user can at least use custom ringtones for calls and alarms, but it’s still not a simple process to get these on your phone.  I’ve found using the Garage Band software included in iLife (standard on new Macs) to be the easiest, most simplest way to achieve this process, which I’ll outline for you below, as well as in a video after the break.  Unfortunately, this fix really only works for Mac users, but never fear PC guys you can do this as well with a little more work that I won’t be covering, but you can use this link to learn on your own.

How to Use Garage Band to Create Custom Ringtones for Use on the iPhone Platform

Step 1.  Make sure to import any snippet of song, or sound file into iTunes to make this process even easier.  This will make finding the audio file in Garage Band much easier once you get to that step.

Step 2. Launch the Garage Band software and Create a New Project using the Loops menu item.

Step 3. Give your project a name.  I suggest using something like “Rings” or “Ringtones”.  Set the Signature to 7/4 and leave the others settings at their default values (Signature doesn’t really matter either, but 7/4 is what I’ve been using).

Step 4. Once Garage Band has opened your new project you need to toggle the setting in the bottom right corner to show your iTunes/Media library so you can work with the files that you imported to iTunes in Step 1.

Step 5. Now that you can see your iTunes media go ahead and find the song or audio clip that you want to use for your custom ringtone.  Once the file is found, Click and Drag it to the middle pane in Garage Band making sure to line it up with the beginning of your audio project (flush left at #1 mark).

Step 6. Now that your sound file has been loaded into your project you need to set its length to be NO MORE than 40 SECONDS!  This is a time restriction used by the iPhone, so your ringtones can’t be longer than 40 seconds.  The easiest way to do this is to Click on Share, then select Send Ringtone to iTunes.  Garage Band will then give you a warning message, go ahead and OK it.  Once that is done you should see a Thin Yellow Line above your audio file in the Garage Band editing pane.

Step 7. Now that you have the Thin Yellow Line you can drag that in either direction to set the length of your audio file that you added to the project a few steps ago.  Please note that the numbers you see in the editing pane don’t equal seconds.  You will want to drag your Thin Yellow Line to the #9 mark, or possibly up to #13 to give you a 14 second, or 38 second ringtone file respectively.  Once you have that in place it’s time to repeat Step 6, but this time it’ll actually send the .M4R file to iTunes after some conversion.  If you dragged the Thin Yellow Line too far to the right you’ll get a warning that your Ringtone is too long, so Garage Band will chop it down for you.

Step 8.  Garage Band will do its thing and send the file to your iTunes Ringtones directory (if you don’t see Ringtones in iTunes open up its Preferences and tick the Ringtones checkbox).  Once it is in there you will want to rename it to something that has meaning to you because it’ll come over with the generic project name that you created a few steps ago.

Step 9. Now that the .M4R version of your Ringtone is in iTunes all you have to do is hook up your iPhone and sync the Ringtones folder to your phone!  Now when you go into Sounds on your iPhone you should see a Custom section that contains all of the Ringtones you created in Garage Band….Hooray!

Once the initial project is created in Garage Band you can just delete that sound file that you previously exported to iTunes and bring in the next file for conversion.  The Thin Yellow Line will still be in place, so all you have to do is edit the sound file to your liking, set the bar to a reasonable time, share it as a Ringtone to iTunes, rename the file, rinse and repeat.  Depending on your sound mixing skills you can create all kinds of unique ringtones by chopping up your sound files and editing them to your liking.  Good luck, and if you would like a visual guide please see the YouTube demonstration below.  You’ve been thinking that this was much easier on the Android OS…

Creating Custom Ringtones for the iPhone Using Garage Band on a Mac


[#ff entbuddha] “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”

EB Original


Tags : appleCustom Ringtonesiphone
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.