Normally, you need to pay a fee in order to make a ringtone using the iTunes software. Not only that, but the only songs that you can use are ones purchased from the iTunes Store. This means that you are effectively paying twice for the same song. The good news is that with a little bit of work, you can create free ringtones for your iPhone using the DRM-free songs that you already have - even ones that haven't come from the iTunes Store.
Previewing a Song
Before you do anything, you may first want to preview a song to determine which part of it you want to use; the maximum allowable time for a ringtone is 39 seconds. The best way to do this, is to play a song and write down the start and end time of a section that you want to use; for example, 1:00 - 1:30 would be a 30 second clip that starts at 1 minute into the song and ends at 1 minute 30. To display the songs that are in your iTunes library, click on Music in the left pane (underneath Library).
Selecting a Song
Once you have identified a song you want to use and noted down the start and end time of the section you want to use, right-click it and select Get Info from the pop-up menu. This will bring up an information screen showing you various details about the song.
Setting the Song's Length
Click on the Options tab and put a check mark in the boxes next to Start Time and End Time. The trick at this point is to use the times that you wrote down earlier - enter these in the boxes and click OK.
Creating a Music Clip
Start by highlighting the song with your mouse, click the Advanced tab at the top of the screen, and then choose Create AAC Version from the menu. If you don't see this option, then switch to the AAC encoder in the Import Settings (click Edit > Preferences > General tab > Import Settings). You should now see a shortened version of the original song appear in your iTunes library. Before continuing to the next step, uncheck the the original songs start and end times by following Steps 1 and 2 above.
Making an iTunes Ringtone
Right-click the music clip that you have created and choose Show in Windows Explorer. You should now see the file on your hard drive with the .M4A file extension - rename this extension to .M4R to make it a ringtone. Double-click the renamed file in Windows Explorer and iTunes will import it into the Ringtones folder (it may take a few seconds).
If you have problems using the first method, then drag the music clip to your desktop and rename it with the .M4R file extension. Delete the music clip in iTunes and then double-click the file on your desktop to import it.
Checking Your New Ringtone
Check that the Ringtone has been imported by clicking on Ringtones in the left pane of iTunes (underneath Library). You should now see your new ringtone which you can listen to by double-clicking it. Finally, to clean up, you can now delete the original clip that is in the Music folder; right-click it and choose Delete, followed by Remove. Congratulations on creating a free ringtone using iTunes - you can now sync your iPhone.
What You Need
- Apple iTunes Software 7+