January 2018: Itunes stopped managing and saving ringtones - How to make and/or transfer ringtones to your iphone in the new itunes 12 that doesn't support ringtones anymore....

This week I got a second cell phone (which is a whole other post about how I'm going to test out a Verizon carrier phone verses my Sprint phone to see if the reception coverage is better before I switch the whole family plan over) and before I set it up I wanted to back up my current phone; including my ring tones (photos, contacts, etc) so I could easily keep the same personalized ringtones for my contacts on both phones.

That's when I was forced to update to itunes because it refused to recognize my (older) cell phone. I tried 3 different cords as I had read online that was usually the problem when even the newest cord to the newly delivered phone didn't work, I had a suspicion it was iTunes way of forcing me to the latest update.

And it was.

So update complete and.... they stopped letting you manage your ringtones through them.  

The pop up on iTunes says they want to focus on music and video instead.

You can see them on your phone if it's plugged into itunes but you can't sync or transfer them and they've made it more tricky to make them.  BUT I worked for a few hours last night to figure out how to still use iTunes to make and transfer the ringtones for my phone(s).

I was going to just type out the instructions for myself and see if my daughter wanted them but then a friend was interested as well and I decided to just put it on the Coffee Talking page.

It looks like a lot but I swear once you do it you'll get the hang of it and it goes quick and easy.  Once you have your song shortened and ready, you can make ringtones in about 2 minutes.

I don't know how important this first step is.  I've done ringtones about 5 different times now since last night testing it - and I just always had the settings this way... because I've always hated the auto sync itunes always did. I lost a lot of music files over the years as we had many different people in our family plugging ipods and iphones into my computer and it would automatically sync and lose and replace things with whatever someone else had when they plugged it in.


When you first plug in your phone, click on your phone image and you'll get this setting page - scroll down past the edge of the box so you can see where they moved the "manually manage" buttons now.  Click the manually manage button and if you wish, the 'only songs and videos but don't know that that matters or not) and OK.


You have to start with a song you ALREADY HAVE.
So either buy it, upload it from your own CD into your computer and your itunes library, etc. Basically, just get the song you want to use into your itunes library.

Listen to your song and watch the little clock on the side of your player.  Choose a small portion you want for your ringer; about 30 seconds more or less.  Note the time it starts and it stops.  Right those down. That's the portion of the song you will use.
In itunes 12+
Click 'SONGS' from the left hand menu.
Find your song in the list on the right.
Right click and choose the option called "SONG INFO"

  • This opens a box.
  • Choose "OPTIONS"
  • Click the box where it says START and type in the time from your song.
  • Click the next box where it says STOP and type in the stop time from your song.
  • Click "OK".

  • Click once on your song just to highlight and choose it.
  • Now, leaving it highlighted, go to the left top of the page where it says "FILE" and click.
  • From the options go to "CONVERT" and when it opens the dropdown menu, choose "CONVERT AAC VERSION"

  • (This will make a copy of your song using the stop and start times you typed in - the copy appears right under your original song and you'll hear a ding when it finishes - about 5-10 seconds).
  • As soon as it dings, go back to the original and change your START AND STOP times back to normal so your song is back to 'normal' length.  You don't need it anymore.
  • Now you will just be working with the new 'short' song of about 20-40 seconds you chose to make a ringtone into!

  • Right click on your new shorter version and choose the option "SHOW IN WINDOWS EXPLORER"

  • Right click your song from the windows window and choose "PROPERTIES"
  • You will see your song with an extension of .m4a - change the "a" to an "r"
  • "OK"

  • You will get an pop up notice warning you about changing the m4a to m4r.
  • Say YES.

(Almost done - you've just made it into a ringtone. Now you have to get it to your phone - which is where iTunes 12 changed things and doesn't allow you to manage your ringtones anymore so you have to work around it.)

  • Leaving the windows explorer open on the right, or opening it back up if you closed it out, and looking at iTunes on the left, click to highlight your phones "TONES" option.
  • Back in the windows explorer window where your song/ringtone is listed, right click it and choose COPY.
  • Back to iTunes file/edit/song/view etc. options on the top left and click EDIT, and PASTE.
  • (Right clicking to paste at this point isn't allowed by itunes but you can work around it by this edit, paste option).

And it just put it on your phone without having to officially sync or do any more steps because it's reading your phone - and it doesn't manage your ringtones anymore.  Itunes just 'sees' them but no long will sync them for you.  (Which is why you cut and pasted it).
Unplug your phone.  

When you unplug your phone, your ringtones won't be showing up in 'tones' anymore like it used to. Again, because iTunes isn't saving them or syncing them, it's just listing them when you plug your phone in.

NOTE:  I suggest finding the file where they are on your computer (again if you already closed the windows explorer file window - search for them if you have to) and select and copy to a completely different folder for back up.   If you mess anything up or your phone loses them during an iphone/itunes backup, restore or sync, then you will need to repeat the step above where you select, copy and then edit/paste back into tones again.

I'm not a computer blogger, an iphone blogger, an electronics blogger or work in any sort of industry remotely connected.  Please don't ask me technical questions or try to figure out things on your computer.  I am posting this partly just as my own personal reference to remember the steps the next time I need/want to make a ringtone.

I sat for about 3 hours last night and just literally figured all this stuff out by clicking around and seeing "what this does" "what that does" and where apple hid buttons that used to be in other places.  I actually *HATE* everything remotely connected with iphones, cellphones, music files, yada yada. ZERO interest.  So yeah.  Take what you wish, play with it and have fun.  But I take no responsibility for anything as I'm telling you right now I'm not an expert and no one pays me anything to sit here and type away while I drink my morning coffee.   ;)