How to Make a Ringtone From Your Favorite Song

Here’s a question: If a song costs you about $.83 to buy on CD, and $.99 from iTunes, how can you justify buying only a fraction of a song as a ringtone for $3 a pop? If your cell phone is capable of playing MP3 ringtones, it makes sense to replace that boring default ringtone with a snippet from your favorite song, but there’s no way that you should have to pay $3 to do it.

Here’s how you can create a ringtone from one of your MP3s for free.

What You Need

If you don’t confirm that you have all three of these before you get started, you may end up wasting a lot of time on something that isn’t going to work. If you’re unsure, check your manufacturer’s and/or service provider’s websites.

  • A phone capable of playing MP3 ringtones,
  • A way to get the MP3 to your phone (PC to phone USB cable, etc.), and
  • An installed copy of Audacity (a free and open source audio editing software).

Audacity, the free and open source audio editing software

Instructions

  1. Open Audacity.
  2. Select File, Open and open the MP3 you would like to make into a ringtone. After Audacity loads it, your screen should look somewhat like the screenshot above.
  3. Click the point in the file where you want your ring tone to start.
  4. While holding down the left mouse button, drag the mouse to the right to highlight the section of the MP3 that you want use.
  5. Clicking the green play button will play your selection.
  6. When you move the mouse pointer close to the edges of your selection, your cursor will turn into a hand. By clicking and dragging with the hand you can shorten or lengthen your selection as needed. This can be done at either side of the selection.
  7. If you have trouble getting the exact point you want, click the zoom button (or [CTRL]+1) a few times so that you can make the start and end points of your selection more precise.
  8. Once you are happy with your selection, select File, Export Selection as MP3.
  9. In the “MP3 Save As” box, change the name of your ringtone to make sure you don’t overwrite the original file.
  10. Connect your Phone to your PC and follow your manufacturer’s instructions for transferring the ringtone onto your phone. With my phone (Sony-Erikson W810i), it was as simple as connecting to the PC with a USB cable and dropping the ringtone into the “ringtones” directory.

And you’re done!

Tips:

  • Holding down the shift key when clicking play tells Audacity to play your selection as a loop.
  • Some phones have size limitations for ringtones, so if you can’t get yours to work the file may be too big. Try cutting the length of the ringtone down to ten or twenty seconds.
  • Sometimes carriers lock the ability to load MP3s on a phone so that they have a monopoly on selling you ringtones from their store. If this is the case, you may be out of luck.
  • Be careful of what you use as a ringtone. That mushy song that reminds you of your significant other is bound to make you look like an idiot when you’re out in public. Unless of course, that sentimental song is “Brick House” by the Commodores (She’s a brick… Hauuuuus. She’s mightay mightay. Lettinitallhangout.).
  • Assign custom ringtones for each of your contacts so you know who is calling without looking. If it’s Slayer, it’s Darryl. If it’s Michael Bolton, it’s probably one of the Bobs.
  • Please don’t ever use Michael Bolton as a ringtone.

14 thoughts on “How to Make a Ringtone From Your Favorite Song

  1. Awesome write up.

    If you run into a phone that you can’t seem to get to accept your MP3 ringtone, HowardForums.com is a GREAT resource for all things cellular.

    They have it split into sections by phone or by carrier – I’ve found a lot of useful information on my LG VX9800 (the V). Unfortunately mine requires a data cable and some other free third party software to get ringtones transferred to the phone.

    My old phone would accept MP3 ringtones as text messages and I could send and save that way. Verizon has a lockdown on that sorta thing now, which is unfortunate for me.

  2. Fricken Nextel has their thumbs up their asses BIGTIME.
    Makes me want to get my own phone again, but the $40 a month pocket watch idea pissed me off last time I had one because of coverage areas that suck. And no, I won’t call and hang up repeatedly after 3 AM just to have Slayer play at your pad. Unless #1GF gives you the green light on that. Then I’ll set up a war dial script to call randomly throughout the day.
    -d—

  3. if you run into a phone that wont accept mp3s often you can convert the file to a windows media and it will accept it- I just started doing this on my nokia 6300 and it works just fine- also some phones that have bluetooth capabilities can accept files from computers instead of linking up via cable- OSX has a really nice ‘send file’ function that works like a charm

  4. hmm i’m trying to get this on my nokia 6300 and it won’t let me use the tone. does this mean i have to go get it unlocked first?

    also, this program keeps telling me i need some LAME MP3, what is that?
    specifically file lame_enc.dll

  5. @Travis: A little Googling indicated that MP3 ringtones can’t be used on the Sidekick 2008 because they’re locked by T-Mobile, but I can’t say for sure because I don’t have one.

  6. i just read your post,
    and i made my ringtone and tried to send it to my phone,
    but it says the ringtone has to be 22050Hz, so i made my ringtone 22050Hz, then the song started to sound really weird and slow.
    do you know how i can fix this problem?

  7. @olivia: Changing the sample rate of a track is like that is like playing a 33 record at 45. You need to change the sample rate of the whole project before exporting.

    In the bottom left corner there is a project rate that is set to 44100 by default. Click on the number and change it to 22050. Now, when you export the track, it will be converted to the project rate of 22050 during export.

    Good luck!

  8. hello…I recently called my cell carrier (Verizon) and asked them if it was possible to download a song from a CD and transfer it to my cell as a ring tone. They said NO…something about a lockdown. they want you to purchase a song for 3.99 from their private list of songs…i think that is BS.

    is there any way to get around this.

    the song i want is WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER by Queen.

  9. The plan works perfectly with my motorola L7. I got a free copy of their ‘phone tools’ program though, which is the only way it seems possible to do it. As for a generic ‘protocol’ for doing this with EVERY phone, I doubt one exists.

  10. My ringtones sound perfect in audacity but on my phone there is a noticeable jump. It doesnt loop perfectly. Is there a wy to fix this?

  11. @buju: I had a skip when I tried to save the file as a .WAV file, but I downloaded the program (Lame for Audacity) that would allow me to save the file as an .MP3 file, and it sounds great!

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