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How to add ringtones to iPhone without iTunes: A complete guide

Come across a song that you really like and want to use as your iPhone's ringtone? Read this guide to see how to add a ringtone to iPhone without iTunes.

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Elma Ellis Updated on Jun 20, 2023 7:33 PM

Compared to Android users, iPhone users find it less convenient to directly add and set ringtones to iPhone. That's because Apple requires users to pay and download songs from iTunes in order to set them as ringtones. Furthermore, adding a ringtone to iPhone with iTunes is quite tricky. You may wonder if there're simpler ways to add ringtones to your iPhone without iTunes.

When you need to add ringtones to iPhone without iTunes efficiently, there're several approaches to help you.

Luckily, there are! In the following, we'll show you how to add ringtones to your iPhone without iTunes using iPhone Data Transfer and GarageBand, which are respectively suitable for situations with and without the assistance of a computer.

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Even if you subscribe to Apple Music, you cannot choose to download your favorite songs as ringtones because each song from Apple Music is encoded with protection.

Related: How to fix when your iPhone is unavailable

Can you add ringtones to iPhone with iTunes?

The reason why some users try to avoid using iTunes to add ringtones to iPhone is that iTunes has made simple things complicated.

However, it is a very traditional method to use iTunes for adding ringtones to iPhone. Even the process isn't easy this way, it can still be achieved. Note that iTunes can only work on Windows PCs and Mac computers running macOS Mojave and earlier versions.

Here's how to add a ringtone to iPhone with iTunes:

Step 1: Download and install the latest version of iTunes on your PC

Download the latest version of iTunes from the official Apple website onto your computer.

Step 2: Select a sound file with a duration not exceeding 40 seconds

You can download ringtones online or extract snippets of your favorite music to use as the ringtones to add to iPhone. Make sure the duration of the sound file is no longer than 40 seconds, as iTunes does not support copying ringtones longer than 40 seconds to your iPhone.

Step 3: Convert the ringtone in MP3 format to AAC

If the sound file is in MP3 format, you'll need to convert it to AAC format first. Launch iTunes > Click "Songs" under "Library" from the left pane > Drag and drop the ringtone file from your computer to iTunes.

Then click the ringtone you added to iTunes > Go to "File" > Choose "Convert" > "Create AAC version." There'll be two copies of the same ringtone file in iTunes library.

To identify which one is in AAC format, right-click "Name" from the top menu, and then choose "Kind" option. The "MPEG audio file" is the MP3 file, while the "AAC audio file" is the converted new ringtone file.

Step 4: Change the ringtones file's file extension to .m4r

Drag and drop the AAC audio file to desktop > Right-click the file > Choose "Rename", then change the extension of the audio file from .m4a to .m4r. With the .m4r file extension, iTunes can recognize it as a ringtone file.

Step 5: Add the ringtone to your iPhone with iTunes

Use a USB cable to connect your iPhone to Windows or Mac computer. Then click on the tiny "iPhone" icon at the top bar > Locate "Tones" in the left-side pane > Copy and paste the ringtone file from computer to the "Tones" section. Then it will be synced to iPhone right away.

Now, you can set the newly added ringtone on iPhone without any barrier by heading to "Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Ringtone."

Add ringtone to iPhone without iTunes – iPhone Data Transfer

For those who want to add ringtones or songs downloaded free from the Internet to iPhone without iTunes, you may resort to an excellent iTunes alternative like iPhone Data Transfer. It's a one-stop solution that brings together ringtone transfer and maker in one place.

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for macOS | for Windows

iPhone Data Transfer allows you to preview all ringtones before adding them to iPhone, as well as other data, like music, photos, videos, and so on. There are several reasons why users prefer to add a ringtone to iPhone without iTunes using iPhone Data Transfer:

  • Compatible with Windows and Mac computer
  • Intuitive and hyper-fast ringtone transfer to iPhone without iTunes
  • Support adding multiple ringtone formats to iPhone, including MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, etc.
  • Auto convert incompatible audio files to a format playable by your device

How to add ringtone to iPhone without iTunes

Step 1. Download and install iPhone Data Transfer on your Windows or Mac computer. Launch it, then connect your iPhone to the computer using a suitable USB cable.

Step 2. Click on "Music" tab from the left-side menu > Select "Ringtone" from the options. From here, all ringtones on your iPhone will be listed, and are available for management.

Step 3. Click the "+" icon at the top > choose "Add File(s)" or "Add Folder" depending on how you want to add new ringtones to your iPhone without iTunes.

If you'd like to add individual ringtones to your iPhone, click on "Add File(s)", and then you can choose which track to add by clicking on it. To add more individual tracks, simultaneously press the "Ctrl" button while clicking on target ringtones. If you have ringtones organized in a folder, simply transfer the entire folder by clicking "Add Folder."

Tip: If you want to capture online music to add to your iPhone as ringtones, you can use AppGeeker Screen Recorder to capture any audio you want. Check our guide on how to record MP3 audio files in Windows 10.

How to create personalized ringtones on iPhone with Ringtone Maker

There's a fantastic feature within iPhone Data Transfer app named Ringtone Maker tool. It allows users to trim the song to select the desired section for their ringtone on iPhone without iTunes.

1. Connect your iPhone and computer using a USB cable, then open iPhone Data Transfer.

2. Click on the "Toolbox" option located at the bottom left of the app's interface. Within the top "Tools" menu, select "Ringtone Maker."

3. In the subsequent sub-window, choose "Add file from PC." Select the song you want to convert into a ringtone and click "Open."

4. Tweak things you need for your custom ringtone, like starting point, ending point, volume, fade in, and fade out effect.

5. Select the location to save ringtones on PC. Check the box next to "Add to device", and click on the "Generate" button, so that you can add the custom ringtone to iPhone.

Note:

  • The tracks or music clips used to set ringtones on your iPhone must be locally saved, which means you need to download and save those audio files either in the Phone Music Library or in Apple Files. Otherwise, they can't be used.

Also read: How to transfer music to iPhone without iTunes

Create custom ringtones on iPhone without iTunes - GarageBand

For users who want to create and add custom ringtones directly on their iPhones without iTunes and without relying on a computer, they can utilize the GarageBand app, specifically designed for Apple devices, to create podcasts and music files.

Before we get started, you just have to ensure the songs you intend to make as ringtones are locally saved. You also need to download and install GarageBand from App Store on your iPhone.

Step 1. Launch the GarageBand app on your iPhone.

Step 2. Swipe to find "Audio Recorder" and tap "Voice."

Step 3. Tap on "View" at the top left-hand corner of the screen.

You'll enter the editing section, then tap the triangle icon next to the red circle to make it blue.

Step 4. Tap the "Loop" icon > Choose music from Files or Music. If the music you want to set as a ringtone is from Files, tap "Browse items from the Files app" to find the song, and then hold and drag it to a track.

Step 5. Drag the vertical bar to the starting point of your custom ringtone. Then tap the song twice and select "Split." You'll see a "Scissor icon" appear at the point, drag the scissor down to cut the song at this starting point. The same way can be used to choose the ending point.

Step 6. Double-tap the unwanted part of the song and choose "Delete."

Step 7. Tap the "down arrow icon" in the upper left corner > Hit "My Songs."

Step 8. Hit and hold the custom music file > Select "Share" > Choose "Ringtone" in the middle of the screen.

Step 9. Tap "Continue", and then change the name of the ringtone. Once done, tap "Export" at the top right corner. When the exporting process is finished, hit "OK."

Note:

  • The length of custom ringtone on iPhone is limited to a maximum of 30 seconds, and if it exceeds this limit, it will be automatically compressed to an appropriate length.

Also: How to do when text messages disappeared from iPhone

Bonus: how to set custom ringtone on iPhone without iTunes?

Here are the steps to help you set a custom ringtone on iPhone without iTunes:

  • Open the "Settings" app on your iPhone.
  • Scroll down and tap on "Sounds & Haptics", or "Sounds."
  • Under the "Sounds and Haptic Patterns" section, tap on "Ringtone."
  • Tap the name of the newly added custom ringtone to hear and set it.

Note:

  • It is possible to set a custom ringtone just for a specific contact. Open the "Contacts" app on iPhone > Tap on the contact's name >Tap "Edit" in the top-right corner of the screen. Then scroll down and tap "Ringtone", and choose the custom ringtone you recently added.
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