Customize your iPhone ringtones – Convert mp3 to m4r

Customizing your iPhone’s ringtone is an easy way to add some individuality to your phone, and yet I’m always surprised at how few people know how to actually do it. But I guess it’s not that surprising, given how horrendous iTunes can be to transfer content between your computer and iDevice.

First you need to find some good ringtones. I personally prefer more minimal tones, ones that don’t cause co-workers to spray coffee over their computer screens when it suddenly blasts through the office. You can find some good ones via a quick google search, and there are many sites out there that offer them for free, so I won’t list them all here. However, if you have a spare ten dollars lying around want to purchase some high quality tones, then I’d recommend visiting Cleartones ( They’re discreet tones, beautifully recorded from live instruments and definitely worth checking out if you want some original sounds on your phone.

On a side note, you can also choose portions of song tracks or any other audio files to edit and use as ringtones. There are numerous apps on the app store that do this, some of which are free. However you obtain your ringtones, it’s not that difficult transferring them to your phone, but you first need to convert them to m4r ringtone files. Here’s the process:

  • Drag the mp3 file you want to use as a ringtone into iTunes
  • Right click on it and choose, ‘Create AAC Version’.

iTunes convert

  • A new file will appear below the mp3 version. Right click on this new one and choose, ‘Show in Finder’. A finder window will appear showing the file.
  • Now delete the AAC version in iTunes, but keep the files when asked.

iTunes save

  • In Finder, rename the newly made AAC version from .m4a to .m4r
  • Now go back to iTunes and go to File – Add to Library (cmd + o)
  • Navigate to the m4r file that you just made, and add it
  • Now go to your ‘Tones’ section of iTunes and it should be there, ready to sync to your phone.

After you’ve synced the ringtones to your phone as you would any other music or app, you can just go to the ‘Sounds’ preferences in the Settings app on your iPhone. Select ‘Ringtones’, and your newly synced tones should be listed right there at the top, above the default ones.


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