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HOWTO: Create iPhone Ringtones From Your MP3′s

iphone 4 garageband ringtonesCreating iPhone Ringtones with GarageBand

OK I hear what you’re saying!  What’s with the guitar Rosco??


Well Apple in their own strange little way give us a cool way to sync iPhone ringtones from iTunes, an easy enough way to import iPhone ringtones into iTunes but no way to create our own iPhone ringtones from our music collection in iTunes or even an easy way to buy ringtones through the iTunes store!


So why the guitar?  Well, shipped with every Mac on the planet comes a really cool suite of applications called iLife and one of those applications is called GarageBand.


Now before I discovered this little tip I never once opened GarageBand (except for maybe the first day I saw iLife) because I’m not that into recording & editing my own music, which is what I assumed it was all about.


Well luck would have it that Apple have created a mighty fine, easy and free way to create as many iPhone ringtones as you like right on your Mac; using GarageBand!


I’m gonna walk you step by step through the process of creating a simple 30 second ringtone using your Mac, GarageBand, iTunes and one of your MP3’s.

I’m going to use ColdplayLost! for my ringtone which you can also download at the end of this page if you like.


For this I’m using Mac OS X 10.6.4, GarageBand ’09 (Version 5.1) and iTunes 9.2 but it should also work with many other versions of all of the above.  If you’re having any trouble, leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

  1. Open GarageBand by click Applications > GarageBand
  2. When the Welcome dialog appears double click New Project in the top left corner
  3. The New Project dialog will appear.  Enter a name to save your project as.  This will be then name of the ringtone as displayed on your iPhone so choose carefully!  Click Create.
    GarageBand New Project Dialog
  4. Now on my new project, GarageBand automatically adds a Grand Piano as the default track.  This may or may not happen you.  If it does, simply highlight the track and click the Track Menu > Delete Track
    GarageBand Delete Track
  5. Now open your iTunes and locate the song you want to use to create the iPhone ringtone from.
  6. Drag the song from iTunes and drop it into the tracks area of your GarageBand project.
    GarageBand Ringtone from iTunes
  7. OK now you need to adjust the length.  GarageBand won’t let you export the ringtone to iTunes if it’s longer than 40 seconds. Click the cycle button at the bottom of the GarageBand window.
    GarageBand iPhone Ringtone Cycle Button
  8. Now a new bar has appeared at the top of the window that looks a bit like a ruler (it’s actually called the cycle region).  Now change the units displayed in the cycle region to time so that you can easily adjust the length to within your allotted 40 seconds.  To change the units click the little picture down beside the cycle button and select Time.  I’ve circled it in the screenshot below.
    GarageBand Ringtone Show Time
  9. Now is your time to play with the track.  In the cycle region at the top of GarageBand drag the yellow bar across or widen/shorten it to your desired point in the song. 
    GarageBand iPhone Ringtone Cycle Region
  10. Press the play button at the bottom of the screen to preview your ringtone.  You’ll have to continue to play with this yellow bar by moving it, lengthening it and shortening it until you feel your tone sounds just right in terms of length and the way it sounds when it loops.
  11. When you’ve got it right, click the Share menu > Send to iTunes
    GarageBand iPhone Ringtone Send to iTunes
  12. Now your new ringtone will gracefully be imported into iTunes, be filed under Ringtones and is ready to be synched with your iPhone.
  13. When you do sync with your iPhone you’ll find it in your Ringtones under Custom!
  14. Download the sample ringtone Coldplay – Lost! here



Wow, 6 Comments! We've got a conversation going now. Join the discussion below!

  1. Matthew Botkin says:

    Thank You! For posting this…total “life saver” which really means sanity saver – since I could not find a way to make a ringtone myself.

    Thanks again…

  2. Jack Pruess says:

    Wow! Thank you! I constantly wanted to write on my site something like that. Can I include a part of your post to my website?

  3. Jack says:

    I just found this post and I must say it is great! So, keep it up with the great work!


  4. Diana says:

    I just read this article and tried it last night as well, but under share, I don’t have the option to send ringtones to Itunes. How can I get this feature or why don’t I currently have it?

  5. Good post, I’m sure to come bach again in future …

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