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How to Make Your Own Ringtone

Free apps help you convert your songs to notifications

spinner image an image of a smartphone showing a reflection of a finger and a number of musical notes
Getty Images

You have the world’s greatest taste in music and a bit of an independent streak.

So tell the world — or the world within hearing distance — that you Make Your Own Kind of Music. The legendary Mama Cass Elliot can help you through your ringtone.

Making your own ringtone isn't difficult, but it has a lot of steps, so consider if you're comfortable with your smartphone and want to experiment. If you don’t want the hassle, you can buy one for $1.29 or less from the iTunes or Google Play stores.

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Before you start, you need to be sure that you are on solid legal ground. You must own the song.

It’s not enough for it to be in your Apple Music, Amazon Music or Spotify library. You don’t own those songs. You are essentially renting them for as long as you subscribe to such services.

spinner image screenshot of the piano keyboard in garage band app with the edit icon circled
After choosing the keyboard on the GarageBand app, tap the Editor button — it’s the third icon from the left on the top, then tap the Loop button, second from right on the top.

On an iPhone with GarageBand

One method to turn a song that you do own from your iTunes library into a ringtone for your iPhone is to use the GarageBand app, which comes preloaded on iPhones. If your phone doesn’t have it, you can download it free from the Apple App Store.

Launch GarageBand, holding your phone horizontally. Then swipe up and choose an instrument. It doesn’t matter which one. The first two choices are Keyboard and Drums, so we’ll tap Keyboard.

Then tap the Editor button — it is the third from the left on top left — and the Loop button, second from the right on top. On the next screen, tap the Music tab at the top and then choose Songs from the list.

From the list, find the song you want to turn into a ringtone. Tap and hold your song and drag it into the second track down on the GarageBand editor. (The first track, the original instrument you chose, is blank.)

spinner image screenshot from an iphone of a garage band app screen with my songs highlighted
After you’ve brought your favorite song into Apple’s free GarageBand app, already on most iPhones, you’ll have to trim it to 30 seconds or shorter. Then you can save it to My Songs and export it to your ringtones.

Tap on the sound graph and drag the ends to set the beginning and end points to your ringtone. You need to keep it to 30 seconds or less, but you don't have to start at the beginning of the song. GarageBand doesn't have a timer for this, so you’ll have to use a stopwatch to make sure you don’t go too long.

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When you have your musical snippet at the correct length, tap the down arrow at the top left, and then tap My Songs to save your file.

To export the song, tap and hold the icon until a menu appears; then tap Share. On the next screen, tap the Ringtone icon. Give your new ringtone a name, and then tap Export at the top right. After the export is complete, tap Use sound as … and then choose how to use it.

spinner image series of screenshots that show how to use androids ringtone maker
After you choose either a song you own or one already available in the app, you can trim it to 30 seconds or less, and a timer is available at the top of the screen to help you measure. Tap the Save icon — it looks like an old-time floppy disk. On the next screens you can set it as your ringtone and either make it the default or assign it to one of your contacts.

On an Android with Ringtone Maker

Remember that Android phone models and operating systems aren't standardized like Apple products. Directions for my Pixel 6 Pro may be slightly different from your Samsung Galaxy S22.

First, transfer or download an MP3 version of the song you want to your smartphone. Once you do that, you’ll need a free app, such as Ringtone Maker, which lets you cut your song to the specific 30 seconds or less you’ll hear when you get a call. The instructions below are for Ringtone Maker, but other similar free apps include Audio MP3 Cutter Mix Converter and Ringtone Maker, MP3 Cutter and Ringtone Maker, and Ringtone Cutter & Ringtone Maker.

When you open Ringtone Maker, you’ll see a list of available songs — it will include a fair number of generic-type tunes that you can use. But you can also go with one of the tunes you just downloaded. Tap the three dots next to the song you want, and from the next menu tap Edit.

Use Trim, Remove middle or Paste options to select the part of the song you want to use as your ringtone. Use your finger to move sliding bars at the top and bottom of the sound graph, or, if that is too difficult, tap on the numbers next to Start and End and use the keypad.

When you are done, tap the Save icon. You can make this your default ringtone from the next screen, or by going to Settings | Sound & vibration on your device.

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