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How to choose and set ringtones

Ringtones have come a long way over the years. From straight-up ringing sounds and cool space age bleeps to ‘novelty’ tunes, from the most-loved to the most-hated and everything in between, everyone remembers them.

But whether you just fancy a change from the boring default sounds or it’s too similar to someone else's, it's so easy to choose and set a new ringtone. Just read our quick Gadget Cover guide and you’ll be entertaining (or annoying) everyone around you in just a few minutes.

Remember to always have the right mobile phone insurance in place to protect your device – because if something goes wrong your cool ringtone will be the least of your worries!

girl in cafe on phone

How to set up a new ringtone – for Android

The instructions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone. From Samsung and Google to Huawei, Xiaomi, and many more.

  1. Go to your Android mobile phone’s Settings app.
  2. Select ‘Sounds and vibration.’ Within this section your phone will probably provide you with lots of different options to tweak the volume levels and tones on your device. These will vary depending on the device model and Android version you’re using. But they should be fairly similar.
  3. Select ‘Ringtone.’ Some versions of Android put the Ringtone option under the Advanced section – if yours does then you’ll have to open that up. The Ringtone tab should also show the ringtone selection you’ve currently chosen.
  4. From here, you’ll find a list of possible pre-set ringtones or a list of ringtone categories to choose from. With the device volume turned up, simply tap a ringtone once to try it out. If you want to avoid annoying others then do this in private rather than on a busy commuter train!
  5. Once you’ve found the one you want to use as your default ringtone, simply tap on it or hit OK so there's a blue circle to the left of the selection. As soon as you leave Settings, your new ringtone will be saved.

In Settings you can also set the ringtone used for notifications. To do this, choose the command ‘Notification Sound’ or ‘Notification Ringtone’ in Step 3 above.

If you’re not happy with the pre-set ringtones on offer, then there’s a whole world of third-party ringtones out there that you can use. Simply download one of the many ringtone apps on the market and choose from their extensive lists. From the latest tunes and clubland classics to seasonal favourites suited to any time of year, there’s bound to be one for you.

Just be careful, when you’re busy messing around with ringtone tweaks it’s all too easy to become distracted and drop your treasured tech. Mobile phone insurance from Gadget Cover can protect you against all manner of accidents.

Child using mobile

Adding specific ringtones for friends and family – for Android

Many mobile phone users like to know if certain important people or organisations are trying to call them. So, they’ll often link a specific ringtone to a particular contact. To do this, simply:

  1. Open the Contacts or People app and select the contact you want to set a different ringtone for.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, select ‘Edit.’
  3. If the ‘Ringtone’ option does not appear then scroll down to the bottom of the screen and select ‘View more.’ Or ‘Add more fields.’
  4. Select ‘Ringtone’ and then choose a sound or song from your ringtone list.
  5. Hit ‘Save’ if prompted.

Now, whenever that contact calls, you’ll hear the ringtone you’ve specified. If you no longer want that ringtone then repeat Steps 1-4 above but in Step 4 choose Default Ringtone found at the top of the ringtone list. Doing this sets the contact’s ringtone to the same as the phone’s ringtone.

How to make your own custom ringtones – for Android

One of the many benefits of having a mobile phone using the Android OS is the ability to customise your phone how you want it. If you find stock ringtones and notification sounds boring then you can add a much more personal touch by creating your own ringtones.

The simplest and most inexpensive way to get new ringtones is to transfer them over from your computer. Most Android devices can use either regular music or audio files as ringtones. But it’s usually best to stick to MP3 and OGG formats when creating ringtones. Do the following:

  1. Connect your phone to your computer via a USB cable.
  2. Swipe down from the top of your phone’s screen to see your notifications. Tap the system notification saying your device is USB connected.
  3. A dialogue box will ask you to choose what the USB is used for. Choose File transfer. If your computer automatically opens a window showing the phone's storage, skip to Step 5.
  4. If your computer doesn't automatically show the phone's storage, open your computer’s file browser and navigate to your phone.
  5. Now find and open your phone’s ‘Ringtones’ folder.
  6. Copy across any files you want to use as ringtones into this folder. They should then appear among the phone’s ‘Ringtones’ folder.

If your phone doesn't offer the level of customisation you crave, simply search for ringtone apps on Google Play. Two free apps well worth considering are:

  • ZEDGE Ringtones & Wallpapers - One of the best and easiest to use apps around, ZEDGE can let you add notification sounds, app icons, alarms, and free wallpapers. With so many categories of music and sound effects customising your phone has never been so much fun.
  • Ringtone Maker - A great app for those who want to make truly custom-made ringtones. Simply load up your favourite tune or record an audio file, cut out what you don’t want, and save it. Overall, while it might take a little time to get used to the tool, once you’ve made a few, the process is straightforward and very useful.

listening to music on phone

How to set up a new ringtone – for iOS

If you just want a bit of a change then Apple has plenty of ringtones to choose from in its internal ringtone list. Just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Open up iPhone Settings > Sounds & Haptics.
  2. In ‘Sounds and Vibrations Patterns,’ select the type of sound you want to change.
  3. Tap on a ringtone or alert tone to try it out and set it as the new sound.

Adding specific ringtones for friends and family – for iOS

To associate particular sounds with certain contacts:

  1. Open your iPhone Contacts app and tap a contact's name.
  2. In the upper-right corner of the contact card, hit ‘Edit.’
  3. Tap ‘Ringtone’ or ‘Text Tone’, to link a new sound to that contact.

How to make your own custom ringtones – for iOS

Let’s face it, despite all the incredible advances Apple’s engineers have made on these marvellous machines, ringtones have been slightly neglected over the years. So, if you’ve had enough of ‘Reflection’ to last a lifetime here’s a way to try something new.

  1. Open iTunes on your computer desktop (you’ll have to download it first, if you haven’t done so before).
  2. Select the song or sound file you want to create a ringtone from. It doesn’t have to be a song, you could use the Voice Memos app to record real-world sounds and turn them into ringtones.
  3. Right-click and select the Song Info option.
  4. A separate window will now appear. Select the Options tab and click on the Start and Stop boxes. These will let you choose the section of the song you want to make into a ringtone. The iPhone will only let you make a ringtone of up to 30-seconds in length.
  5. After you’ve selected the appropriate section then be sure to listen back to it to check it’s the part you really want. Once you’re happy, hit OK to confirm and the window will disappear.
  6. Now select the song again and hit File > Convert > Create AAC Version. Your ringtone has now been created as a new track in your iTunes Library. It’s a good idea to now go back into the original song’s Song Info and hit the Options tab. Now untick the start and stop times. If you don’t, then when the track plays in future it’ll only play that selected part!
  7. If you’re using a Mac, right-click on the ringtone file and choose ‘Show in Finder’. If you’re on a Windows PC then you’ll need to search for the song in Windows Explorer to find its exact location.
  8. Change the song's file extension from .m4a to .m4r. That's because Apple uses a .m4r extension for ringtones instead of the usual .m4a. Hit ‘Yes’ when asked to confirm if you want to change the file extension. Be aware, this apparently straightforward step is one many people get wrong, so it’s worth double checking.
  9. Keep your iTunes window open and plug your iPhone into your computer via the USB cable. If you haven’t done this before then you might need to tell your iPhone to ‘Trust this Computer’ and enter your iPhone’s passcode as part of the process. You might also see a message in iTunes asking ‘Do you want to allow this computer to access information on (your)iPhone?’ Click Continue to allow this.
  10. Once the iPhone pops up in the left-hand sidebar of the screen under Devices, click on it and an option should appear beneath it called Tones.
  11. Now drag and drop the ringtone into Tones. If drag and drop doesn’t work then Copy and Paste the file into Tones.
  12. Head over to your iPhone Settings app.
  13. Open Sounds & Haptics.
  14. Scroll down to Ringtone and tap that option.
  15. Your new ringtone should now appear here. Select it. The ringtone should also play, so you can check it works perfectly.

If you’re a Mac-user and the ringtone simply won’t show up in the Tones section, then Tech Advisor suggests the following:

  1. Delete the ringtone from your iTunes Music library (although, not the actual file on your hard drive). Then double-click on the ringtone file and it should show up in Tones.
  2. If it doesn't, move the .m4r file outside of your iTunes folder onto your desktop. Then double-click on it. Fingers crossed, that should work.

Remember this process doesn’t just work for ringtones. You can also use it to create a custom tone for text messages, tweets, new voicemails and anything else. Just make sure you select the right section under 'Sounds & Haptics'.

Then just tap on the type you want, Text Tone for example, and then just scroll down to your custom tones at the top of the Ringtone list. But be warned, you won’t want a 30-second musical interlude every time you receive a text message, so choose your sounds wisely!

Top tips for choosing the perfect ringtone

The modern preference for vibration or silent alerts means we don’t hear each other's ringtones as much as in the past. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care when choosing one. Here are a couple of tips to guide your choice:

  • Moodless
    A good option as you never know who’s calling, and what the call is about.
  • Personal
    You hear a phone ring. Is it yours or someone else’s? Using a personal ringtone means you’ll always know whose it is.
  • Unobtrusive
    Using a gentle, unobtrusive ringtone won’t annoy others nearby, but also solves the problem of missed vibration alerts.
  • Clear
    That said, you don’t want a ringtone that’s too soft and gentle or else you won’t hear it anymore.

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