Twelve years ago, personalised ringtones ruled the roost. The dulcet tones of the Crazy Frog echoed through commuter trains, while misunderstood teenagers interrupted family Sunday lunches with Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” or the ubiquitous “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” by Arctic Monkeys.
In 2017, however, personalised ringtones are old hat, with most of us now opting for a generic 1930s-style “brrrring” or unobtrusive vibration. While this has a levelling effect, it also means everyone reaches into their pocket or bag when they hear a stranger’s phone ring – like techie Pavlov’s dogs.
So ignore the naysayers: ringtones are still a great way of showing off your exquisite taste in music to a captive audience. Here’s how can you set your iPhone to play Chris de Burgh’s “Lady in Red” – or an inferior tune.
How can I create an iPhone ringtone?
First, make sure that you’re running the latest version of iTunes. If you’re using a Mac, click iTunes in the application bar and then select “Check for Updates…”. In the latest version of Windows 10, click Help (just below the playback buttons) and then “Check for Updates…” near the bottom of the dropdown list.
Once you’re up to date, it’s time for the fun part: picking a track from your iTunes library. It could be anything from old-school Slipknot to the latest Miley Cyrus single or even a recording of your own voice. I’m sticking with Mr. de Burgh’s masterpiece…
Unfortunately, you can’t set the whole song to repeat ad infinitum every time the PPI people call – Apple has set a limit of 30 seconds per ringtone. This means you’ll have to do a bit of tweaking by right-clicking on the track and selecting Song Info.
Once the pop-up appears, click on the Options tab. This will allow you to specify the start and stop points of the song, but remember that the clip can be no longer than half a minute. I’ve chosen to start the ringtone just before the chorus, which will no doubt start a singalong on the busy 07:14 train to Charing Cross.
Now that you’ve cut out the juiciest part of the song, you have to actually create the ringtone. If you’re using the latest version of iTunes (if you aren’t, why not?), click on the song and head to File | Convert | Create AAC Version. A, much shorter, duplicate will then appear underneath the original track.
This is your ringtone, but don’t get too excited – the file still needs to be converted to the right format. In Windows, right-click on the snippet and select “Show in Windows Explorer”. If you’re using a Mac, it’ll be “Show in Finder”.
Once you can see the ringtone in a folder, you need to change the extension to .m4r. This is as easy as right-clicking and selecting Rename or double-clicking and then typing.
If you’re using a Mac, you will also get the following prompt, which you can dismiss by pressing “Use .m4r”.
To install the ringtone, connect your iPhone to your laptop or PC and drag the new .m4r into iTunes’ Tones section (under your device’s name).
The file will then appear in the Tones playlist.
Sync your device – this will happen automatically when you reconnect it – and tap through to Settings | Sounds | Ringtone on your iPhone. Hey presto, your brand-new tune will be listed amongst all of the default options.
You can now set it as your default ringtone and bask in Chris de Burgh’s soothing tones. If you’re as dedicated as me, you can also set the clip as your text/voicemail/email/Twitter/Facebook/calendar alerts – as well as your alarm…
Once you’re finished, go back to iTunes and delete the start and stop points of the original track by once again right-clicking on the track and selecting “Song info”.