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.)


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:

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)

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