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Garageband Tutorial: How to create iPhone ringtones on your Mac

Turn any audio file into an iPhone ringtone and send it to iTunes using Garageband

The ability to use custom ringtones is undoubtedly high on most mobile phone users’ wish list, and one criticism that has been levelled at the iPhone in the past is that you can’t just use any old MP3 file that you happen to have on your device as a ringtone. Instead, Apple’s default method for creating and getting custom ringtones onto the iPhone is typically esoteric, involving a proprietary M4R file format, the use of a USB cable and iTunes. Luckily though, if you’re handy with GarageBand, it offers a fairly straightforward gateway to creating your own ringtones entirely from scratch using any audio file. You can always use an existing project, or even create a new song especially as a source for the ringtone, but for this tutorial, we’re going to assume that you have a (legally acquired!) MP3 or AIFF file on your hard drive ready to convert.

1: Create new project

Load up GarageBand, and from the main entrance screen, click the iPhone Ringtone category in the options panel on the left.

2: Choose template

A selection of ringtone templates should appear to the right. Double-click the template you want to use. Alternatively, single-click it, then hit Choose.

3: Name project

Type a name for your project. If you know them, you can also set the project tempo, key and time signature from here. If not, you can change these later on.

4: Open the project

Click the Create button and the project opens, showing the project timeline, arrange area and a single track, containing a sample audio region.

5: Import audio

Click the audio region and press Backspace to delete. Drag and drop your desired file from Finder to replace it. This will form the basis of your ringtone.

6: Set cycle region

Drag the ends of the yellow cycle region in the beat ruler until they encompass the part of the project you want to use. Ringtones can be up to 40 seconds long.

7: Zoom and loop

To perfect your loop, make it easier to spot edit points by zooming in close with the zoom slider and begin fine-tuning your start and end points.

8: Export to iTunes

When you’re ready, choose Send Ringtone to iTunes from the Share menu. The new ringtone will be in the Tones section of your iTunes Library.

9: Sync your device

Plug in your phone and click the Tones tab in iTunes’s sidebar. Drag your new ringtone and drop it on the name of your iPhone under Devices.

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