Put a Ring On It!

iOS 5.0 brings with it a feature that I had been waiting for since day one with my iPhone, back in 2007; custom text and email tones. Starting in version 2.0 of the iOS software, Apple allowed users to make custom ring tones, but custom text and email tones were absent. In light of this change to version 5.0, I’d like to show how easy it is to create ring tone files, which can be used for any of the custom tone sounds on iPhone.

What You’ll Need:

  • iTunes
  • GarageBand ’08 or newer. I’ll be using GarageBand 11 for my examples.
  • Songs (or sounds) you want to use as custom tones

We’re going to be using GarageBand, which comes pre-installed on every Mac. Make sure you have the sounds you want already stored in your iTunes library. If you are looking for custom tones, do a google search, I’m always amazed at how many specific sounds I can find with a quick search.

Ok, now that the sounds you want to use as custom tones are in your iTunes library, let’s launch GarageBand. Click “iPhone Ringtone” and then select “Loops.” Then GarageBand will ask you where to save the file. Save the file somewhere you’ll remember, because when we’re done, you’ll be able to make other ringtones using this same file. Click Create.

Select iPhone ringtone, then Loops

Now, in the GarageBand window, in the bottom, right hand corner, there should be three buttons. Click the button furthest to the right, which brings up the Media Browser. At the top of the screen, click Audio, then select iTunes. Now you should be able to see all your iTunes songs right in GarageBand.


The Media Browser function allows you to import songs from iTunes to GarageBand

Select the file you want to make into a ringtone, and drag it into the left, main part of the GarageBand window, into a new track. To do this, just drag it so it’s just below the bottom most track.

Once it’s there, it’ll show up as a new track, like this:


This is what your window looks like after dragging a song in from iTunes

Now, delete all the audio from the tracks that show blue and green music, leaving just your orange music.

After you have just the one track you need, find the part of the song you want by trimming away what you don’t want. For my ringtone example, I want the first 20 seconds or so of the song, so I don’t need to do any trimming here. If you want a middle part of the song, familiarize yourself with GarageBand’s trim function.

An important note about Ringtones in GarageBand that is different from other music files in GarageBand: The Yellow Loop indicator, at the top of the window shows what part of the song is your ringtone.


The yellow bar here is the Loop Indicator

If you drag the end of that yellow bar to the left, you have a shorter ringtone that will loop more times when someone calls. For Email and Text alerts, you probably want that bar to be pretty short.

Once I have the length of the ringtone set as I like it using that yellow Loop Indicator, I’ll listen to it a couple time to make sure it’s perfect, then it’s time to send it to iTunes.


When the ringtone is done, Send it to iTunes

Once it’s in iTunes, sync it to your iPhone and you’re all set! Once iOS 5.0 is released, I’ll go over how to set a custom tone as a text or email alert.

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