How to set an MP3 file as custom ringtone or notification sound on Android

by: Alvin YbañezMarch 7, 2013
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There are times when I just want to use a specific MP3 music track either as ringtone or as notification alert. On Android generally, this isn’t a hard thing to accomplish. But, on several of Samsung’s recent high-end releases, it’s nearly a walk in the park.

Samsung’s much-celebrated smartphones do have a long list of default ringtones and notification alerts to choose from. You can choose any one of them until you grow weary of it — and when you do, and when you’ve run through all tones on the list, what else do you have left to do? You add your own MP3 to the list, of course.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to set an MP3 file as custom ringtone or notification sound on certain high-end Samsung phones. (You may also check our video tutorial at the end of this post.)

Requirements

The instructions in this guide have been known to work on the Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy S3 running stock TouchWiz with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or higher; these may also work on other Samsung phones that I have not tested.

Root access on the phone is not needed either. This guide will still work even if your phone is rooted, provided that your phone runs at least Android 4.1 with stock TouchWiz.  The procedures may be a bit different if your phone is running a custom ROM or a different version of Android.

The MP3 files that you want to use must already be on your phone. There are many ways to copy MP3 files to your phone, but I won’t be covering those here.

Setting custom MP3 ringtone

Via Settings menu

To set an MP3 file for use as custom ringtone system-wide, do the following:

  1. Copy the MP3 files to your phone. The stock Samsung Music Player app ought to be able to see the files. Check whether the music tracks appear in the Music Player app.
  2. Go to Settings > Sound > Device ringtone. You will see a list of the phone’s default ringtones.
  3. Tap the Add button to launch the media manager app. If your phone has several file/media manager apps, select Music Player from the popup box.
  4. You will see a list of music files stored on your phone. Select one and tap Done.
  5. Your selected MP3 track will now be your custom ringtone. Repeat the same process to add more custom ringtones to the default ringtones list.

Via Music Player

You can also set a system-wide custom MP3 ringtone through the Music Player app:

  1. Play the desired MP3 music file in the Music Player app.
  2. While the file is playing, tap the capacitive Menu button to open the Options menu.
  3. Select Set as and choose whether you want to set the ringtone as a phone ringtone, caller ringtone, or alarm tone.

Custom MP3 ringtone for specific contact

Setting a personalized ringtone for each contact is also possible in the stock Contacts app:

  1. Launch the Contacts app and open a contact’s info page.
  2. Scroll down until you see the “Ringtones” section. Tap on it and a dialogue box will appear with three options:
    • Default — use default ringtone
    • Ringtones — select a default ringtone for the contact
    • Go to My Files — open the My Files app to select a ringtone file
  3. Select Go to My Files and find your desired MP3 file.
  4. Select the MP3 file and tap Done.

Setting MP3 as custom notification tone

Unlike with ringtones, you cannot directly set an MP3 file as notification alert through the Settings menu or via the Music Player app. You have to manually set the music file to use it as a notification alert. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Copy the needed MP3 files to your phone.
  2. Launch a file manager app (e.g., My Files app, ES File Explorer, and the like) on your phone.
  3. Locate the desired MP3 file and copy it to the Notifications directory inside the phone’s internal storage (usually /storage/sdcard0). If you don’t see the Notifications directory, manually create it before copying the MP3 file into it.
  4. Go back to the main homescreen and open the Settings menu.
  5. Go to Sound > Device notifications and select the newly added MP3 file on the list.

Using ringtone manager apps

Another way to set custom notifications or ringtones is through a ringtone manager or ringtone editor app. One of my favorites is the Ringtone Maker app. This app allows you to trim a music file and set it as a ringtone or notification alert.

  1. On your phone, install the ad-supported Ringtone Maker app for free from the Google Play Store.
  2. Launch the app.
  3. All your music files will be displayed on the list. Locate your desired music file.
  4. Tap the green button beside the name of the file that you want to edit.  The Options menu will popup.
  5. Select Edit to edit the music file.
  6. On the next screen, slide the sliders to define a region for trimming.
  7. You can also set fade in/out effects or adjust volume levels. The app also allows you to mix a cropped file into another MP3 track.
  8. Once you’re satisfied with the changes, tap the Save button.
  9. Choose whether to save the file as ringtone, notification, alarm, or music. Also give a filename for your edited file.
  10. Tap Save.
  11. Your newly created music can now be used as a ringtone or notification on your phone.

Video Tutorial

Check our video tutorial on YouTube:

http://youtu.be/TaaulN9gd2I

Congratulations! You have now learned how to set your own MP3 music as custom notification and ringtone on your Samsung Android phone. There may be other ways to achieve the same goal on other Android phones. Did you use any of the methods described in this guide? Successful? What method did you use?

(with contributions from Elmer Montejo)

  • Madankumar Balakrishnan

    It’s the same on pretty much every Android phone.

  • yungqb7

    I have my custom ringtones and notifications on my SD card (mnt/sdcard/_ExternalSD/Media/Audio

  • nishantsirohi123

    or you can go to play store and download “shuffle tone”
    set the different songs(including system tones and your music library)

    and have a different song from the selected list play every time you receive a call

  • jaamgans

    How to make your life complicated. Do your self a favour and download these 2 apps which have been around since 1.5 –

    Ringdroid – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ringdroid#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDIxMiwiY29tLnJpbmdkcm9pZCJd

    and

    Rings Extended – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.angryredplanet.android.rings_extended#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDIxMiwiY29tLmFuZ3J5cmVkcGxhbmV0LmFuZHJvaWQucmluZ3NfZXh0ZW5kZWQiXQ..

    Still the best and quickest way to change any tone, and to take clips or use whole MP3 files.

    Been that way from 1.5 and still beats the standard options is 4.1.2

    • RAmar

      Thanks brah, Rings Extended was just what I needed. The default media storage app wouldn’t let me select a custom mp3 as a notification sound and it was driving me nuts. Ring tones are fine, I can pick what ever I want with the default, but Notification has to be a troll.

  • Adela

    Thank you. I tried everything to add a new notification sound AND ONLY YOU GOT IT RIGHT. 1000 thanks

  • Todd Donatello

    Doesn’t work on my Galaxy Note 2. If I go into the stock Contacts app and pick a custom notification for a particular contact, it reverts to the default notification in the stock Messaging app, even though it SAYS the tone I WANT in Contacts. Another buggy Android fail. iPhone may not be innovative, but it freaking just works. None of this crap having to go into my file directory and swag it to somehow work and then it doesn’t. Now I suppose I’ve gotta go through the trouble of rooting my device over something dumb that should just work on its own. Nice Google, nice.

    • Farid Abbasbayli

      Yeah, except you can’t add custom ringtones on Apple the normal way at all.

  • Bill Tucker

    I am impressed, lots of google searches and failed attempts, but you got it right!!
    Thank you.

  • Jon

    thank you. for me, I had to add the step of restarting my EVO LTE to get it to recognize the newly placed files in the notification folder, but it works.

  • Yumi

    i dd it! tysm! <3

  • MrDibism

    TQ so much for this articles! It helped me A LOT… :D Hehe

  • Chris

    This does not work. I want to create a different notification sound using my mp3 for each of my contacts. Im using SMSPro and nothing is working. It always uses the default ringtone and default notification. Can anyone help?

    • Markese

      I have the same exact problem. My phone will not show the custom notifications that I wish to assign to an individual contact. It only shows the default and message notifications from within the system folder of my phone.

      • works

        On your SD card, /media/audio/notifications is where you store files to
        use for app notifications. /media/audio/ringtones is where you store
        files to use as phone ringtones. If these folders aren’t there, just create them.

        So just create a Notifications folder where your Ringtones folder lives and put your sound in there. It’ll appear in the settings then.

      • Jeff Taylor

        I have CM12 (lollipop based) on my phone. The notification and ringtone folders are located

        root>media>audio>

        And I needed to give the file manager root access in order to move files in there. Don’t know if you have to, but I then changed the permission of the new file to match all the other existing ones.
        Then to make the file show up in the list, I had to reboot the phone.
        Man that seemed way harder than it should have been! Like s1974x mentioned above, it seems that dummy proofing the system is also making it unusable.

  • Joee

    “Locate the desired MP3 file and copy it to the Notifications directory inside the phone’s internal storage (usually /storage/sdcard0).”
    This fixed mine. Once you copy then go in and use ES File Explorer or similar and pick ringtone then it will show up under the Andriods “Media Storage” browser. Or just wait a few minutes and it will come right up. My problem was when I had Moto Droid RAZR Maxx plugged into computer and looking at contents on sdcard0 and sdcard1 it would default the phone back to a ringtone that was unreadable. Still does not ring when connected to computer but will atleast go back to custom ringtone. But if you use AirDroid you still get notifications. But AirDroid does not charge your phone at same time. And I dont expect it to.

  • Mrutuswami

    Set ring tone in Android jelly bean
    –> Go to Home screen
    –> Music
    –> Select your song as u want to set ring tone.
    –> Hold the selected song
    –> then select “Use as phone ringtone”
    –> Select your sim(1 OR 2).
    –> Enjoy the ring tone
    ! !! Ha ha ha ha……………………..

  • junaid khan

    thanks a lot………………………………… its working

  • MANthrax

    Show how to add all the ringtones into the same folder

  • Rahul Kasana

    Simple steps to add custom ring tone Set Custom Ringtone to Android phone

  • Rahul

    Easy steps to follow for all android devices : Set Custom ringtone for android

  • Rahul

    Easy steps to follow for all android devices : Set Custom Ringtone on any android phone Posting again as previous comment has broken link

  • sarah

    Thank you! I could only find directions on how to add ringtones from my computer, rather than mp3s downloaded on my phone for use as notification sounds. This was perfect. Much appreciated!

  • ItsGrumpyMate

    Thankyou so much! I downloaded the app, worked great!

  • Demi Gee

    “Hey, Listen!” XD Mwahahahaha!

  • raju

    thanks a lot

  • Dariusz G. Jagielski

    It works also on LG and Sony phones with 4.1 or newer, just set my notification to psx boot sound :)

  • s1974x

    Computers are more powerful than ever, but they’ve lost so much in terms of ease of use in an era where developers supposedly claim to be making things easier. I have ringtones on my SD card from my previous Android and now have the SD card in my new LG Android phone. After finding that the SMS notification setting is not in Settings > Sounds > Ringtones like it intuitively OUGHT TO BE, I have found it. I open it and instead of allowing me to choose from the selections or an “Open File” entry like has been found on computers for 2 decades now I am greeted with nothing but a predefined list. I explore my file structure with File Manager thinking that I can move the files from my SD card to an intuitively named and located folder and File Manager does not allow you to move files around. I hook it to my computer and search for the name of a ringtone in the pre-defined list (so I can find the folder and stick the files in there) and the file cannot be found. Programmers, seriously, what is wrong with you? Your ability to make anything intuitive and commonsense is about as good as your ability to produce stable code. It is really reasons like this that I have really become tired of technology.

    • Kyle Sandeman

      Maybe YOU should try satisfying the needs of all the stupid end users. Since you know EVERYTHING about how to fix this, why dont you make your own operating system that caters for people like you? You are a typical end user. Period.

      • s1974x

        By typical end user you mean I expect to exchange money for a professional functional product? Then why yes! Yes I am a typical user. If I paid 20¢ instead of $20 for a $20 product I highly doubt my saying “You’re counting it wrong” would fly with you. The dirty secret of the software industry is that the developers have a high level of arrogance and a childish attitude towards their job because they are more interested in “playing” by creating new “cool” functionality that works at a proof-of-concept level and have no interest in trudging through the boring steps that would ensure the product works appropriately at a commercial level. Half the time I just don’t think they even have the talent to do it even if they tried. Your comment couldn’t have confirmed my statement more had you come out and agreed with me. Maybe you received lots of self-esteem coddling and participation trophies in grade school, but in the grown up professional real world halfassing things doesn’t cut it.

        • Kyle Sandeman

          have you ever done programming? The amount of idiot-proofing that goes into software is not even funny.

          • s1974x

            Yes I have done programming. I did it for 12 years, and that should be irrelevant. You only asked that question because you hoped the answer would be “no” so that you could claim the default “you don’t understand” excuse. It was 12 years in Visual C++ and now that I am out I have no intention of ever returning to that mess.

            I know first hand that a lot of users are idiots, but that does not excuse what passes for professional release level software that developers are putting out there. For example, I had an early Samsung touchscreen smartphone that was a complete pile of garbage loaded with bugs. One affected the calendar in such a way that you could go through a few completely valid steps and it would then show the wrong day of the week for the date being displayed, So if you had a meeting on Friday at Noon you’d go to the next Friday 2/7/2015 and create your event only to find that the meeting ended up being created on Saturday because the 7th was really a Saturday. I reported the bug and even created a video showing the bug and no one at Samsung cared. The phone was completely updateable but the professionalism at Samsung was so low that no one cared to correct a bug even as simple as this one.

            Like I said, I was in the industry and know that the part of the work developers want to do is the new exciting stuff, and this has resulted in an entire industry that treats proof-of-concept level work as commercial-ready work. The customers are treated as beta testers and as long as bugs are not so severe that they could result in successful lawsuits against the company bugs are fixed slowly – if ever.

            I mean if a bug creates a severe security vulnerability then the company behind it will be on it ASAP because they don’t want to be sued. If the bug results in unstable software then it is treated as if it is of no concern.

            I actually fear the day when Google releases the self-driving car because something that complicated with today’s level of indifference towards quality just won’t cut it and people will literally die because of the programmer mindset, and when that happens they are going to find that courts will not accept their blame-the-user excuses.

          • Kyle Sandeman

            Agreed. Now that I see where you (were/are) coming from, I can better understand your point, now you have an argument, before you sounded like a hater. You are right about the OEMs, they only care if it is a severe problem. Thats why i use cyanogenmod, people who actually care and update their software. There is nothing wrong with samsungs hardware (AFAIK) but hopefully they redeem themselves with the latest touchwiz “trimming”

  • gRascia

    Thanx a lot very helpful!!!

  • jackiechan

    thanks

  • Elías

    Thank you very much. Quite helpful!

  • Jeff Taylor

    I have CM12 on my phone, I had to reboot my phone to get the new .mp3 to show up in the notification sounds list.

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  • Gareth Lim

    can someone tell me how to add a specific tone as a notification tune but not have it appear as a song in my player