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How to Change the Ringtone on Your Smartphone

Customize the notification sounds on your iPhone or Android to show your personality — or stand out

spinner image a man smiles while he looks at his smartphone with his dog on his lap
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Hey, my phone’s ringing.

Now where the heck is it? Not in my pocket. Not in my purse. Not on the coffee table. Darn, I know I just put it somewhere.

Oh, wait. That’s not my phone. But it sure sounded like mine.

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More than 50 ringtones from Apex to Cosmic to Duck to Old Car Horn and Xylophone come baked into iPhones that work on 4G and 5G networks. So why does it seem like everyone uses the same sound when they’re receiving a call or a text? In part, that’s because iPhones come with a default ringtone: You’ll hear Reflection on iPhone X and newer; older phones default to Opening.

You can easily change your ringtone whether you have an iPhone or an Android. If you don’t like any of the choices, with just a little more effort and $1.29 or less, you can download 30 seconds of your favorite song — perhaps Vehicle by The Ides of March or Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival or even Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show theme — to show your personality and make sure no one will confuse your phone with theirs.

You can even set different ringtones for each contact, so you’ll know who’s calling without having to look at Caller ID.

spinner image screenshot series showing how to change the default ringtone on an i phone by going to settings then sounds and haptics then ringtone then choosing a different one
Changing your ringtone on an iPhone

How to change your ringtone or text tone

On an iPhone or iPad, tap Settings | Sounds & Haptics, then tap the sound you want to change. The choices are Ringtone, Text Tone, New Voicemail, New Mail, Sent Mail, Calendar Alerts, Reminder Alerts and Default Alerts.

Tap the ringtone you want to associate with that choice and a blue check mark will appear. You’ll also hear what the tone sounds like. If you don’t like it, find another.

spinner image screenshot series showing how to change the default ringtone on an android phone by going to settings then sounds and vibration then phone ringtone then choosing a different one
Changing your ringtone on a Pixel 6 Pro (Android)

Some people like to have different sounds associated with different alerts: an old-fashioned phone ring for an incoming call, a swoosh for incoming mail, a ding for a text.

On an Android phone, the process is very similar. Go to Settings | Sounds and vibration. Tap on Ringtone or Phone Ringtone and choose from the preset choices. When you touch your choice, the circle next to your choice will be filled in.

From there, some Android phones will let you continue your work. Others require you to tap Save. Because Android phones come from several manufacturers, not all have the exact same steps.

Video: How to Set Custom Ringtones for Your Contacts

How to set a separate tone for a particular contact

On an iPhone or iPad, open the Contacts app — or get to your contacts by tapping your Phone app icon and Contacts in the lower middle of your screen.

Tap the name of the person you want to set the ringtone for. Then in the upper-right corner of the person’s contact card, tap Edit Ringtone or Text Tone, and choose a new sound.

spinner image screenshot series showing how to change the ringtone for a particular contact on an android phone by opening the contact and then choosing set ringtone
Setting a separate tone on a Pixel 6 Pro (Android)

Again, the process is similar on an Android phone. Open Contacts either by tapping your Contacts app icon or your Phone app icon and Contacts in the lower right corner. Tap the contact you want, and tap the three vertical dots︙at the lower right. From that menu, tap Change ringtone/vibration | Ringtone and then select the desired ringtone.

If you don’t see a Set Ringtone option under the dots menu, tap the contact name once, then tap the icon with an “i” in a circle and Edit, the second option in the lower left corner of the next screen. Then tap View more and scroll until you see Ringtone. You’ll have to Allow the Contacts app to access photos and media on your device, but afterward you can choose any ringtone you have on your phone.

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How to buy ringtones from the iTunes Store

Open the iTunes Store app on your phone and tap More — the three horizontal dots ⋯ icon at the bottom right, then tap Tones.

Find a ringtone you want to buy, then tap the price, usually 99 cents or $1.29. Your phone will ask if you’d like to set your new tone as your default ringtone or text tone, or if you’d like to assign it to one of your contacts. Tap your choice and then tap Done.

You’ll then have to confirm your purchase with either biometrics or a double-click of the button on the right side of the phone. You also can get to the Tone Store directly from Settings | Sounds & Haptics | Ringtone | Tone Store.

Choose an option to automatically set the ringtone. Or tap Done to decide later.

How to get ringtones from Google Play

Probably hundreds of apps — most free to download — offer ringtones in the Google Play Store, including rap music ringtones, today’s hits ringtones, Harry Potter ringtones, Metallica ringtones, military ringtones, cute baby ringtones. You get the idea.

Search for ringtones in the store, and you can filter your search to return only ringtone apps that have either a 4.0-star rating or above or a 4.5-star rating or above.

And a legal warning: You can find many tutorials online on how to turn your purchased music into a ringtone. But even if you’ve bought the song, cutting it down for a ringtone might not be legal. Because of copyright laws, you must buy it again to turn it into a ringtone, according to an answer on an Apple-controlled message board.

This story, originally published March 9, 2022, was updated to reflect changes in instructions.

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