Remember when ringtones came in only one shrill, annoying flavor that had the power to jar you instantly alert from any sense of relaxation you may have been experiencing at that moment? If you remember that, you possibly also remember when phones had dials on them instead of buttons and you couldn’t easily walk around with them in your pocket (at least without getting some pretty suspicious looks). Now, thanks to the options gifted to us by the science of modern telephony, we can pick and choose the method by which we will allow the intrusion of non-email, non-face-to-face conversation into our lives. And if you have a smartphone of the Apple variety, you may be wondering how to edit songs for iPhone ringtones.
Wouldn’t it be fun to screen your incoming calls by the sense of sound, alone? Perhaps you could corral a list of unwanted callers (like frequent telemarketers who ignore the “Do Not Call” list or maybe your deadbeat brother in law who’s always hounding you for spare dollars) into a contact that would trigger the part of Ray Charles’ version of Hit the Road, Jack where Margie Hendricks chides the apologizing pianist with the line: “Don’t care if you do ’cause it’s understood you ain’t got no money; you just ain’t no good.” In this way, you’d not only know not to answer the phone, but you might get a chuckle out of what would otherwise be an annoying interaction.
Maybe you’d like to have your special someone’s calls announced by the ditty you refer to together as your song. And if that song happens to be Tone-Loc’s Funky Cold Medina, I’m not going to judge. (I can’t speak for everyone else at the office when your sweetheart rings and your phone goes off at that crucial morning meeting, however.) If you have no shame and you really want to create a bunch of custom announcements that’ll keep you (and possibly no one else who has to spend any amount of time with you) amused, then you probably want to know how to edit songs for iPhone ringtones. These instructions should work on Windows; Mac users who would like to offer suggestions for your fellow Gnomies are encouraged to leave a comment below.
1. If you’ve got an iPhone, you probably already have iTunes on the computer that you use to sync your iPhone files. (If not, download iTunes — I know, I know. That’s going to make a lot of people out there cringe, but it’s really the easiest way to proceed with this exercise. I’m sorry.) Then plug in your iPhone so it’s showing up in iTunes.
2. I’m assuming that you probably have a batch of songs that you’d like to edit into iPhone ringtones, so I’m going to guide you along under this assumption. Just doing one is a very simple matter, and you can adjust these instructions easily enough to suit your needs. To avoid “contaminating” your normal iTunes library, make copies of the songs you’d like to make into ringtones and put them in a separate, easy to find folder.
3. Import them into a special playlist in iTunes that you’ve made just for them. This will allow you to create ringtones from excerpts rather than entire songs without modifying those same songs in your main library.
4. Select a song that you’d like to edit and use as an iPhone ringtone. Play it until you find the part of the song that want to make into your ringtone, and jot down the beginning and ending times. May as well do this for all of the songs you’re turning into ringtones now. It may take a while. Make sure you’ve got a big glass of water handy and hydrate often.
5. Right click on a song, and select Get Info.
6. Click on the Options tab.
7. Enter the start time and stop time, desired volume, and equalizer preset (if you like). Don’t forget to check the little box that says Remember Playback Position! (As a side note, wouldn’t it be awesome if the little pulldown menu next to Media Kind had a “ringtone” option you could select to avoid this whole nonsense altogether? Far be it for me to have ideas that might make life easier. Sigh.)
8. Here’s where you make sure these truncated versions of the songs can be converted into ringtones. You’ll need to convert them into Apple’s AAC (.m4a) format like so:
- Select Edit, then Preferences.
- Click on the General tab.
- Go to Import Settings (it’s a button toward the middle).
- Import Using: AAC Encoder.
- Back at Preferences, click on the Advanced tab.
- Change iTunes Media folder location to match the folder where your copies are. (This will save you from having to go hunting through the current default iTunes media folder when it comes to a future step.)
- Select all of the songs in the playlist and right click.
- Click on Create AAC Version.
9. Go to the folder where the copies are. You’ll notice that there are now a bunch of sub-folders that iTunes has graciously added. In this series of sub-folders, manually change the file extensions from .m4a to .m4r. As you do so, double click on the changed files and they’ll automatically get imported into the settings to be synced with your iPhone. If there’s already a Ringtones folder on your iPhone, that’s where they’ll go. If there isn’t one, it’ll darned well make its own!
Now you should have a custom ringtone (or several) to play around with on your iPhone, designating it (or them) to contacts as you see fit. Not as hard as you thought, but it still could have been easier if Apple just made iTunes a little more friendly toward this purpose, no? At least you learned, in a roundabout way, how to edit songs for iPhone ringtones.