Tip: How to make a Ringtone for your iPhone using Garageband

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It recently came up in conversation that I’d made several custom iPhone ringtones for the new phone.  Someone said they’d tried to do that and ended up with a massively large file.  I asked if they’d used Garageband, they had, but not correctly, so I thought I’d run you through it real quick.

To do this you need: iTunes, Garageband, a Mac, some music in your iTunes library.  I’m using iLife ’09 / Garageband ’09, which came with my MacBook Pro.

Open Garageband

As you can see in the screen shot above, you have a lot of options when you open up Garageband.  The left hand menu shows ‘iPhone Ringtone’.  Clicking that opens up a couple of options, including ‘Example Ringtone’:

Click ‘Example Ringtone’.  Now give your Ringtone a name.

Once you have a name, the file opens up:

Let’s take a look at this for a second.  First, you have your track (titled Jingles).  The Blue area is the music.  The Yellow is what’s important – that is your ringtone time frame.  Only music in that area will appear in your ringtone.  On the right is the Inspector – this gives you access to the various tools available to you inside of Garageband.

Now, to create your ringtone, first you click on the blue area to select it, and hit the Delete (or backspace) key to remove it.

Next, in the lower right hand corner of the Garageband screen, click on the music icon to open up your iTunes library inside of the Inspector.

You have the option to scroll through your library of music, or you can use the Search at the bottom of the Inspector, to find the song you want.

Let’s search for the Super Mario Bros. Theme.  What? Doesn’t everyone have that in their iTunes Library?  Anyway, I click the search box, type in ‘Super Mario’ and see what comes up:

Now I just click the song in the Inspector and drag it to the Track.

My song is the Orange area.  Note that it goes on well past the Yellow bit (the Ringtone timeframe).  Now, if I hit the Play button, the song will play but only as far as the Yellow bit, then it will start over again (just like a ringtone).

If I want a different bit of the song, I can click the Yellow bit and move it:

Now hitting play will only play the new area covered by the Yellow bit.  Using a little trial and error, move the Yellow bit around until you get the clip/part of the song you want as the ringtone.  You can also use the slider in the lower LEFT hand corner of the Garageband screen to zoom in and out on the track.

Moving it to the right will zoom you in like so:

Note that at this level, you can really nudge the Yellow bit around to get it to start exactly where you want it to.  Moving the slider to the left will zoom you out like so:

Obviously, at this zoom level, you can see the entire track/file, but you lose some detail. I suggest a combination of both, going back and forth, until you find the right spot/section of the track you want to use.

Once you have the Yellow bit where you want it, go up to the top and click Share on the menu, then choose Send Ringtone to iTunes:

Garageband will take care of the rest, exporting your file in the proper format, with just the bit from the Yellow area, and at the right size and compression for a ringtone.  The next time you open iTunes, you’ll have a ‘Tones’ item on your sidebar menu:

Any/all of the ringtones you have made will appear here:

My Sexy Nerdy Ringtones

Now all you have to do is sync your iPhone and tell it to sync ringtones, then set your ringtones on your phone using the Settings app.  You can also set specific ringtones to specific contacts by editing those contacts, but, really, that could be a whole other post…

~P

2 comments for “Tip: How to make a Ringtone for your iPhone using Garageband

  1. October 11, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Ever wonder how to make custom ringtones for your iPhone? Here you go: http://t.co/QlMXSGbY The things I do for you… 😉

  2. October 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Pity I have a PC, and a Android Phone, or else I’d be all over this. Alas!

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