We all know that the stock ringtones for most phones range from merely annoying to other-worldly, nightmarish soundscapes of noise and agony (I’m looking at you, “Moto”). Even after almost a decade of smartphones, creating your own custom ringtone hasn’t gotten much more intuitive. Fortunately, this simple four-step process will help you turn any MP3, AAC, AMR, or WAV file into a ringtone that will be all your own.
Step 1: Move the Song to your Phone
If you want to create a ringtone, your first step will of course be getting the audio file onto your Android device. There are a variety of ways you can do this, but for the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll just go with a simple transfer over a USB cable.
If you already have the song file on your Android, then congratulations! You’re already one-fourth of the way done! Pat yourself on the back and skip ahead to Step 2, just try not to look too smug about it.
This guide assumes that you are using a PC. Don’t despair, Mac users, because the process is almost identical.
Locate the Song on Your Computer
Using your computer’s file explorer or finder, locate the song you want to use on your hard drive. It may be in any number of places, from an iTunes music stash to a downloads folder, so you might have to look around for a bit. Once you’ve found it, make note of its location.
Link Phone and Computer with USB
Using a standard micro USB cable, attach your Android device to your computer.
You probably have one of these cords lying around since they almost always come with new phones, and you usually need one to keep your device charged. However, if you somehow manage to find yourself in a micro USB drought, you can grab a new one for a couple of bucks off Amazon. Don’t worry about shelling out extra for any of the gimmicky, gold-plated kinds; a run-of-the-mill cable will serve you just fine.
Open Phone via Explorer
When you attach your phone to your computer via the USB cable, you’ll probably get a message asking you how you would like to use this device. Choose to explore the device’s files and folders.
If this option does not pop up, go ahead and open a new explorer window. You should find your phone listed among your computer’s available storage devices.
Drag Your File Over
Go back to where you located your music file and drag it over to your phone’s storage.
These next steps use applications that automatically locate audio files for you, so it doesn’t matter very much where you put it. However, it’s generally good practice to put it somewhere you can find it again to keep your device tidy and organized.
Step 2: Get Your Apps
Some songs are ready-made to be used as ringtones. If you’re grabbing AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” for instance, you’re probably going to want that famous opening riff to herald the arrival of every phone call. Depending on file type, your phone might automatically recognize the song as ringtone material.
In most cases, however, some tweaking and fine-tuning is in order. We will be using the following two apps to chop directly to the part of the song you want to use as your ringtone and ensure that your phone is able to use your new creation as a ringtone or notification sound.
Download RingDroid by RingDroid Team
RingDroid is the go-to app for everything custom ringtone. It’s relatively lean, supports a plethora of popular audio file formats, and is able to assign freshly trimmed songs as ringtones right from inside the app.
From time to time, though, RingDroid can hit a snag or two. Some users have complained about having to save two versions of a file if they want to use it as both a ringtone and a notification. There is also some grumbling about its capabilities when it comes to assigning ringtones to specific contacts. That’s why we’ll be installing a second app as a catch-all workaround for all of RingDroid’s potential shortcomings.
Download File Manager by Cheetah Mobile
Oh sweet File Manager, how I love you dearly. I could sing File Manager’s praises all day long, but how-to articles aren’t the best medium for filibustering, impromptu musical numbers. Therefore, I’ll just sum up.
File Manager is a tiny powerhouse of an app that gives you a clean window into your Android device’s backstage. It has a ton of clever little tricks up its sleeves, including a slick wifi file transfer system.
For our purposes, we’ll just be using File Manager for its ability to assign any audio file as a ringtone or notification. This is a huge advantage since most stock interfaces tend to be a little finicky about which file types can be used for what.
Step 3: Trim your Ringtone
Once you’ve got your apps installed, it’s time to whip that audio file into shape. Cut right to your favorite chords and be sure your ringtone ends before the part you don’t like as much kicks in.
Locate Your Tune
Pull up RingDroid and locate the song you want to use. Note that RingDroid’s interface uses audio file properties rather than file names in its default browser. This means that if your song has track name and artist data, then its listing may differ from the name of the file you moved over from your computer.
Once you find your song, tap it, and RingDroid will open up the editing tool.
Find an Ideal Segment
Use the sliders to isolate the part of the song you want to use as your ringtone. RingDroid will trim away all the rest.
Don’t worry about cutting up your song, though. RingDroid will keep the original file.
The app lets you define a segment of any length, but remember that you’ll be using this as a ringtone, so it won’t be playing for more than a few seconds most of the time. Hit the Play button to hear a test run of your ringtone.
Once you’ve got your song trimmed, tap the floppy disk “Save” icon.
Now you can give your ringtone a new name. Make sure it’s something you’ll remember.
Before you finish out, change the file type from the default option “Ringtone” to “Music.” This will ensure that you will be able to use it as either a ringtone or notification in the future with the help of File Manager.
Step 4: Apply Ringtone
You’re almost there. RingDroid has built-in functionality to assign your freshly-trimmed musical masterpiece as your ringtone without ever leaving the app, but let’s forego using that ability for now.
In this last step, you will use File Manager to select your ringtone instead. This avoids some potential hiccups and you can use this same technique the next time you want to change your ringtone, regardless of whether or not you go through RingDroid first.
Don’t open File Manager. Instead, pull up your Android device’s settings.
Sound & Notification
Find the Sound & Notification option and tap it. Some variation exists between devices, so don’t worry if your menus look a little different. The important thing is to get to your phone’s stock ringtone selection options.
Once you find your current ringtone setting, tap it.
Use File Manager
Since you installed File Manager, you will be given the option to use it instead of the default ringtone selection function. Choose to use File Manager. You can also choose whether you want to always use this app or only use it once.
When File Manager opens up, tap the “Audio” shortcut to see a list of all the audio files on your phone.
Locate the file you created with RingDroid. Since you selected “Music” as its filetype, it will have the extension .M4A. Be careful not to confuse it with your original, untrimmed song file!
Once you select it, you’re done! Give your phone a test call to give those sweet, angelic tones a trial run.
If you want to assign a specific ringtone to a contact, just use this same process in your contacts menu, using File Manager once again instead of the default ringtone selector.
It’s true that there are other methods to create your own ringtones, but what makes this technique so useful is that it works for a variety of widely-used file types, and it avoids the most common complications that users tend to run into. It’s also a very quick method, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending an entire afternoon chopping apart your favorite songs and trying them out as ringtones!