Create and manage ringtones in iTunes

Last modified: Nov 12, 2019 1:55 PM
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Create a ringtone in iTunes

  1. Select a track to use as the source. You cannot use an Apple Music item, or anything that is in the cloud.
  2. On the Get Info > Options tab set start and stop times no more than 40 seconds apart, or 30 seconds for text tones.
  3. Under Edit (Win) or iTunes (Mac) > Preferences > General tab > Import Settings choose AAC Encoder > High Quality 128k. **
  4. Use File > Convert > Create AAC version.
  5. Reset the start and stop times on the original track.
  6. Right-click on the new copy and click Show in Windows Explorer or Finder.
  7. Delete the new entry from the library without sending to the recycle bin/trash. *
  8. Change the file extension from .m4a to .m4r. (You may need to adjust folder options to see the extensions.)
  9. If running iTunes 12.7 or later you should move the file into <Media Folder>\Tones.

* If you omit this step on a Mac iTunes will remain connected to the renamed file as if it was a regular music track, and it will then ignore any attempt to add it to your device.

** In Music for Catalina the Import Settings option is found under Music > Preferences > Files.

Add ringtone to device, iTunes 12.6.5 or earlier

  1. Move the file into the Automatically Add to iTunes folder inside your media folder, it will be added to the Tones section of the library and move into the Tones folder inside the media folder.
  2. If you don't see Tones in the drop down media selection menu click Edit Menu at the bottom and add it.
  3. Connect the device, select its icon next to the media selection menu, then the device's Tones tab, and set the sync options.
  4. Sync the device.

Add ringtone to device, iTunes 12.7 or later

  1. Connect device to computer.
  2. Enable the sidebar in iTunes if hidden.
  3. Drag & drop * or copy & paste the ringtone from Windows Explorer or Finder onto the device where it appears in the iTunes sidebar (drop) or to the Music or Tones sections of the device when expanded (paste). Which method works seems to vary.

  • From iTunes 12.7 there is no longer a dedicated Tones section within the iTunes library.
  • Tones created with earlier versions of iTunes or purchased on and transferred from a device will normally be found in the Tones folder inside the media folder. Alternatively there may be a Ringtones folder in the media folder or the main iTunes folder.
  • Tones shared as a ringtone to iTunes with GarageBand for Mac or Logic may be in a folder called Import inside the media folder.

* Some Windows users have noted that this method fails if they are running iTunes as the administrator. In some cases it may be necessary to exit the BTTray.exe utility, if present, before iTunes can be launched in non-admin mode. Mac users may find that omitting step 7 from the steps in Create a ringtone in iTunes means that iTunes is still attached to the ringtone file as an entry in the music library, if so it will be blocked from copying to a device.

Add ringtone to device, macOS 10.5 Catalina

  1. Connect your device to your Mac, and open the general tab for it in Finder.
  2. Drag and drop your .m4r file from another open Finder window to the General tab for your device.

Issues after updating iOS

Some users have reported that existing tones will no longer play after an iOS update, or that they cannot add new tones. If this happens you may need to remove all existing tones from the device, reboot, and then reimport your ringtones.

Remove tones using iTunes 12.7 or later

  1. Connect your iOS device to iTunes.
  2. Select it using the icon that appears next to the media selection drop down tool.
  3. Change to manual management if necessary on the Summary tab.
  4. Select and delete unwanted tones from On My Device > Tones.
  5. Switch back to syncing with selected content if desired.

N.b. It should be possible to switch a synced device to manual management and back to syncing with selected content without existing content being removed or replaced, despite the warnings iTunes may give, as long as you are using the library previously used to sync content to the device.

Removing hidden tones

Some users have found that custom tones that are on their device don't show in iTunes so cannot be removed using the method above. In such cases you could try iFunBox or a similar third party utility to make changes in the raw file system of the device. In iFunBox try Toolbox > User File System (Win) or Raw File System (Mac) then iTunes_Control > Ringtones to locate the relevant folder. Any custom tones on your device show up there with random 4 letter file names and a .m4r extension. Deleting all the .m4r files in this folder should clear all custom tones from the list on the device, and you can then add back what you want using iTunes. You may also need to delete the .plist file found in this folder. Copy off the .m4r files first if you don't have original copies of them on your computer.

N.b. making incorrect changes in the raw file system has the potential to make your device unstable. Backup before you begin and ideally Archive the backup in case there is a need to return to it.

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