MikeL's iPhone HowTo
I've had a lot of trouble getting custom ringtones to work on my
iPhone. Every time I do it, it takes all sorts of screwing around.
I'm not a freak about having cutesy ringtones for each friend, I have
a specific use where TXT from different numbers means different
actions - actually a driveway sensor indicating a vehicle coming up
the driveway, or a door opening, etc. This is a customer detection
system that allows me to be doing work away from the customer area,
then be sent a txt when I need to go help them.
(See DrvWyMon if
you're interested in more details about this product, it is for sale.)
The whole point is not having to look at my phone to see what is going
on. I'm out working with my hands with my phone in my pocket, perhaps
it's raining, I do not want to pull my phone out of my pocket to know
which event has occured. This is the whole point of the iPhone with
Siri -- handsfree. It would be possible to use the builtin ringtones,
but it's much better to be able to match the sounds made by the base
station in the customer area.
Anyways, here's what seems to be working for me.
- Do not plug in your phone yet. If it's in, unplug it.
- In iTunes take "Edit"->"Preferences", click on "General" tab.
In the upper pane, the "Sources" section, make sure that "Tones" is
selected then hit Ok.
- Just below the above strip with "file", "edit", "view" etc.
options, there is a little option list, with a little cloud next to
it. (I'd never noticed this before, had no use for it.) Click
this, select "Tones". Please note that this is the iTunes tones
library, not the iPhone tone library. If you've made ringtones
before, they may be in here already.
- Pick your audio file, make a copy of it, then edit it down to
just a few seconds. Save it in any format that iTunes can read,
these directions will assume .mp3. (Personally I use Adobe
Audition, but you can use any audio program you like. A Google
search will find many sites that tell you how to do this directly in
iTunes.) Back in the old days (do you remember a real live
telephone ring?), a typical U.S.A. ring was 4 seconds on, 3 seconds
off. For this reason I recommend a complete sequence less than 7
seconds, but I've read you can go up to 30 or 40 seconds. Be warned
(I don't know this from personal experience, I read it), that iTunes
doesn't bother to tell you "ring tone too long", it simply omits
- From the File Explorer or command line, copy that file into your
main iTunes directory, I use the "Unknown Artist" -> "Unknown
- In iTunes, go to File->Add Folder To Library. Find that
directory, and add it. It's Ok if there's already stuff there, this
is simply the easiest way to add multiple tones at once.
- Go back to your main library by selecting "Music" again. Your
new tones should now be visible and playable under "Unknown Artist".
For each tone, right-click and take "Create AAC Version"
- Go back to your File Explorer or command line window and get to
that directory ("Unknown Artist" -> "Unknown Album"). You'll now
find a .m4a file for each of your originals .mp3. Rename the .m4a
file to .m4r. (I'm pretty sure this is not case
- If you did not already keep a copy elsewheres, do so now.
Delete the original .mp3. I believe this step is
- Back into iTunes, still in the Unknown dir, there will be two of
each of the ringtones. Double-click on each of them, one of each is
the original and will give an error something like "cannot be found
do you want to locate?". Click no, then right-click and delete it.
I believe this step is also mandatory. Do this for all -- no
original .mp3 duplicates.
- Note that if you do not delete the originals from library (the
"Unknown Artist") in the main iTunes library you get an error at
sync time, something like "the file [ringtone name] was not copied
as it could not be found". Go back two steps and check that you've
done this right.
- Now plug in the iPhone. It will probably sync on its own. Go
into a contact and change the ringtone. If your new ones are there,
lucky for you, you're done!
- If they're not there, don't despair -- yet. Near the top right
of the iTunes screen you'll find a button labeled "iPhone" with a
little icon and an eject symbol. Click on the word "iPhone". (Did
you know you're supposed to click on that eject symbol anytime you
unplug your iPhone?)
- Check that the colored bar across the bottom of the screen
indicates that you have space left on the phone. If not, go delete
some stuff and try again.
- Near the top of the screen is a strip with the name of the
phone, and a list of screens. Click on the 4th from left "Tones".
If "Sync Tones" is not checked, do so, then hit "Sync". Once
finished, check a contact on phone to see if tones are present.
- If not, UNcheck "Sync Tones", hit Sync, wait it out, REcheck
"Sync Tones", hit "Sync" and this should do it.
- If you get the not-copied-not-found error for some or all of the
files, go back several steps where I talked about deleting the
dupes, then the previous step, syncing with no tones to clear up any
old stuff it thinks is laying around, then resync again.
- I've had this not-copied-not-found error just happen completely
out of nowhere when things have been going just fine for weeks and
I've not been messing with ringtones. In this event, this previous
step of sync with "sync tones" deselected, the reselected has fixed
- Sorry that there's no info here on purchased ringtones, I have
never purhased one and never will so I can't help you with
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