When it comes to iPhone ringtones, Chimes and Ripple will only get you so far. Discerning iPhone users need a ringtone that suits them, and what better choice than a song they love? Of course, nobody wants to pay for ringtones, and while there are several apps that offer to help users create their own ringtones, what many people might not know is that you can do this entirely with iTunes. The process can be a bit circuitous — it requires you to copy files and change extension names — but once you get the hang of it, it’s quick and easy. Below is our guide on how to make ringtones for the iPhone using iTunes, whether you want to hear a mournful jazz number or the latest hit when people call.

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Choosing your song and creating an AAC version

Step 1: Open and update iTunes

To begin, launch iTunes in Windows or MacOS and ensure you’re using the latest version of iTunes — currently 12.5.4 — before you continue. To do so using MacOS, click iTunes in the main application toolbar and select Check for Updates from the resulting drop-down menu. If using Windows, click the Help option housed in the Menu Bar below the playback buttons, and select Check for Updates near the bottom of the resulting drop-down list.

itune check for updates 2

Step 2: Choose a song

Choose the song you’d like to use for your new iPhone ringtone. Keep in mind that iPhone ringtones continually run in 30-second (or less) loops, so don’t pick something that you are going to regret later. Once you’ve chosen the appropriate song, memorize or jot down the start and stop times for the desired, 30-second portion of the song you wish to use as your ringtone.

Step 3: Add the start and stop times

One of the lesser-known features of iTunes is the software’s ability to “crop” songs and videos, which allows you to choose specific times for them to stop and end. This is how we will select a portion of a song to use as a ringtone. First, right-click or Ctrl-click the song you want and select Get Info from the resulting drop-down list.

Afterward, click the Options tab at the top of the window. There should be fields for Start and Stop. Enter the times you want. Remember that ringtones max out at 30 seconds, so keep it at or below that length. For our purposes, we’ll use a segment from 0:14 to 0:42 in the song. Once done, click OK at the bottom.

Step 4: Create an AAC version

AAC is an audio format that Apple prefers to use for its devices; essentially, it achieves the same sound quality as MP3 while using less storage space. Moreover, iTunes gives users the option to create an AAC version of any song they choose, which is nice when you need to conserve hard drive space and create a ringtone. Once you’ve set the appropriate start and stop times, with the short version of the song selected, go to File, Convert, and Convert to AAC Version. Because we’ve altered the start and stop times for the song, creating an AAC version will create a copy of that specific section of the song. The copy will then automatically appear in your iTunes library, directly beneath the original song.

Step 5: Copy the file and delete the old one

Once created, click the AAC version of your song and drag it to the desktop or your desired save location. This will copy the file to that location.

At this point, you probably no longer need the shortened song. Unless you want to keep the 30-second snippet for some reason, you might as well delete the file to clear up any unnecessary clutter. Right-click or Ctrl-click the AAC file in iTunes and select Delete from the resulting drop-down menu. Then, click the Delete File button, if prompted.

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