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Create ringtones right on your iPhone

Thanks to a wide assortment of free apps, you can turn any song into your library into a ringtone. But you'll still need your PC.

Apps like Ringtone Designer can turn any song into a ringtone or alert tone. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Feb. 2, 2011. It has been updated with new information.

Ever wish you could turn a certain Grammy-nominated Daft Punk song -- you know the one I mean -- into a ringtone for your iPhone?

There are apps for that -- lots of them, in fact, all capable of converting virtually any track in your song library (not just those hilariously parodied on "The Colbert Report") into a ringtone or calendar/alarm/text tone.

To keep things as simple as possible, start with Ringtone Designer. It's a free tool that makes the process painless. (It's also ad-supported; if you want more features and no ads, Ringtone Designer Pro costs 99 cents, 69p or AU$1.29.) Here's how:

Step 1: The first time you run the app, you'll be prompted to choose a song. This can be any DRM-free track stored on your iPhone. Don't worry: Turning it into a ringtone won't modify the original in any way. Instead, the copy is merely copying a section of the song.

Use sliding selectors to choose the song snippet you want for your 'tone. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 2: After making your choice, you'll see an audio waveform of the song, along with a pair of sliding selectors for choosing the snippet you want. The left selector indicates where the ringtone will begin; the right, where it will end. (Remember that ringtones repeat themselves, so it doesn't have to be long.)

Step 3: If you're having trouble getting exactly the starting/stopping point you want, you can pinch out to zoom in on the waveform. Tap the Play icon to listen to your selection, then make adjustments as needed.

Step 4: Tap the Save icon, which will result in an an iTunes-friendly M4R file. Now you need to fire up iTunes and use the File Sharing feature to add that file to your Ringtones library. (The app has a link to a tutorial video that walks you through each step of that process. If you've never done it before, I highly recommend watching it.)

Step 5: Once you've added your newly created ringtone(s) to your library and synced your iPhone, simply venture into Settings > Sounds > Ringtone to start using it.

In an ideal world, ringtone apps wouldn't require this iTunes hoop-jumping, but would instead make your song snippets instantly available. At least the creation part is easy. If you have a few minutes to spare and want a potentially limitless supply of new ringtones, Ringtone Designer gets the job done.

Is there a ringtone maker you like better? If so, hit the comments and make with the name!