Adding third-party ringtones to iPhone

Q: I recently purchased the Apple iPhone, and this is the first Apple product that I’ve bought. My quetion is how can I upload ringtones on the iPhone? I downloaded ringtones from one website but they won’t upload?

– Hawra

Adding third-party ringtones to iPhone

A: Ringtones with the iPhone are a slightly tricky issue right now, as Apple has only recently changed their position on user-created ringtones.

With the introduction of user-installable ringtones this past September, originally only tracks purchased from the iTunes Store could be turned into ringtones, and then at an additional cost of $0.99 per ringtone. Although several third-party workarounds were available to allow user-created ringtones to be placed on the iPhone, various iTunes and iPhone software updates continued to block this capability.

As of iTunes 7.5 and the iPhone v1.1.2 firmware, Apple has now opened up the ability to add third-party ringtones to the iPhone, and has in fact provided a GarageBand update for Mac users that now directly supports sending audio tracks from GarageBand to iTunes to be used as an ringtone.

GarageBand ‘08 is part of the iLife ‘08 suite, which is bundled with all new Macs purchased after August 2007.

Ringtones are normally synchronized through iTunes itself, although there are also a number of third-party tools available to assist with this process. You can import a ringtone file into iTunes in much the same way as you would any other media track—simply drag it to the iTunes window, or use the File, Add to Library menu option.

Once added to iTunes, ringtones will appear under the “Ringtones” category in the Source list on the left-hand side of the iTunes window. This category normally only appears once you have added at least one ringtone to your iTunes library, but can also be enabled/disabled via your iTunes Preferences.


Adding third-party ringtones to iPhone

Ringtones contained in your iTunes library are selected for synchronization to the iPhone in much the same way as any media other content. You can find these settings on the “Ringtones” tab in your iPhone sync preferences in iTunes:


Adding third-party ringtones to iPhone

Note that third-party ringtones from other sources may not import into iTunes properly. The first thing you should check when trying to do this is that the file in question has a “.M4R” extension—if not, rename the file with the proper extension and try importing it again. If that still doesn’t work, then you may need to look to a third-party software tool to assist you in transferring these ringtones either into iTunes, or directly to your iPhone itself. Two popular tools for Mac users are iToner (, $15, trial available) and MakeiPhoneRingTone (, free).