Friday, August 01, 2008

iPhone ringtones

Have a cool audio file you want to use as a ringtone on your new iPhone but can't figure out how to get it to work? Don't want to spend $0.99 on a ringtone from apple for a song you already have and want to use your fair use rights? You can do it, I can help.

Ok, as I say to my daughter, the easy way or the hard way? I'll start with the hard way first so you have a basic understanding or don't have garage band... if you do and are impatient, just skip ahead.

First you need an audio clip. Anything will do, we will be converting it to AAC format so if you have one of those, great. (not sure about the copy protected ones though... you have to be able to edit the file) If you do have an AAC file, cut it to 30 seconds or less and you can ignore this next bit.

Of you don't have an AAC file, you'll need to make one. Open your favorite audio editor, I've been using Audacity because it's free but you can use pretty much any audio editor, we don't need any fancy features so I'm sure you can find a free one on just about any platform that will do.

Now, load up your file and find the 30 second (or less) sound clip that you want to use. Got it? Ok, save those 30 seconds as either an AAC format or, if like me your editor doesn't support that, choose an uncompressed audio format. Then to convert to AAC format, load the uncompressed audio file into iTunes and right click and select convert to AAC. If you don't see this option, you probably changed it in your Preferences section of iTunes under Advanced->importing and then change the "Import Using" option to AAC. Now you'll need to right click and choose show in finder to find the aac file and copy it somewhere temporary. (I use the desktop) Now delete the new files it created from iTunes. (but not from the desktop)

Ok, now you have an AAC file on your desktop and not in iTunes. Rename the file from YourFilename.m4a to YourFilename.m4r. Load this file into iTunes and it should go into your ringtone list. Sync your phone and you should now have your custom ringtone on your iPhone.

Have GarageBand? Ok, this is really easy. Choose the loop button next to the FFW button on the main controls. Now, you should notice a small section appear below the timeline, use your mouse to select the 30 second clip you want, then choose Share->Send Ringtone to iTunes. Sync phone.

Apple could have made this a lot easier, especially for users that don't have garageband. I mean, why not just let us use mp3s as ringtones? This is one area where I think apple really dropped the ball. Fortunately I have garageband so it's not a terrible process, I just think $0.99 per ringtone is a bit ridiculous especially because you can buy the whole song for that.