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.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

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!