How to create a ringtone or text tone for free on your iPhone using GarageBand

Using the free GarageBand app by Apple, you can take a song or voice recording on your iPhone, turn it into a ringtone, and set it as your iPhone’s incoming call or text tone. This tutorial shows you how to do that.

Convert and set a song as ringtone on your iPhone without computer

What songs can you use as your iPhone ringtone?

GarageBand lets you use songs that are saved to your iPhone’s Files app (iCloud Drive, On My iPhone, or elsewhere). You can also use a song from your iPhone’s Music app if:

You can’t create ringtones from downloaded Apple Music songs as they have Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection. Plus, making ringtones from third-party apps like Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music is out of the question as well.

If you wish to use your voice recording as a ringtone, make sure it’s added to the Files app. To do that, open the Voice Memos app > tap a recording > three dots icon > Save to Files > pick any location > Save.

Now that your music is in order, let’s help you create a ringtone with it.

How to turn a song into your iPhone ringtone

Here’s how to convert any song as a ringtone on iPhone without a computer:

1) Download Apple’s GarageBand for free from the App Store and open it. Go through the welcome screens and tap any instrument like Keyboard.

Pick keyboard in GarageBand on iPhone

2) If you see the brick wall icon showed in step 3 below, tap that and skip this step. If you don’t see that icon, tap the red circle button and play the instrument for a couple of seconds. After that, tap the green triangle icon to stop. Now, follow step 3.

3) Tap the icon that looks like a brick wall. You’re now on the editing screen.

Tap brick wall icon in GarageBand

4)  Tap the loop icon from the top right and locate your song in the Files or Music app. After you find the song, touch it and drag it left onto the editing timeline.

Add song to make it into a ringtone

Note: After the song is in the editing timeline, tap the instrument icon from the top left and tap Delete to remove the unnecessary recording you made in step 2. Even if there is no recording, tap the instrument and choose Delete to remove it. After that, you’ll only have the song on this editing screen.

Delete unnecessary instrument

Note: Anytime you like, drag the head (a vertical line with a pentagon at the top) to the desired position and tap the triangle play button to preview. Tap the blue triangle icon to turn off the tik-tok sound of the metronome.

Preview ringtone in iPhone GarageBand

5) Most likely, the imported song will be cut short to about 20 seconds. To import the full song, you can tap the tiny plus icon (+) > Section A and enable Automatic. But it can stretch the timeline and become a pain. Since your goal is just to create a short ringtone, edit it as shown in the next step. To increase it to 30 seconds (the maximum length of a ringtone), increase 8 bars to 11 or 12 bars. If it’s more than 30 seconds, GarageBand will automatically adjust it to 30 seconds when you export it as the ringtone (step 13 below).

Change bars to automatic

6) Suppose you wish to pick 20 seconds from the middle of the song. To do that, tap the audio clip, and you’ll see a white border across it. Now, drag the left end of the song to cut the starting portion out (first image below). Next, drag the whole song left to reposition it to the starting of the editing timeline (second image below). After that, drag the right end of the song to extend it and see the remaining part of the song (third image below). Repeat this until you get to the part of the song you wish to use.

Edit song by its ends to turn it into a ringtone on iPhone

7) Optional: Move the head to the desired position, tap the song, choose Split, and drag the scissors down to divide the audio clip. Tap the split portion and choose Delete. You can repeat this to remove unnecessary parts. You can also drag the two ends of the song to remove the remaining parts. If you ever make a wrong move, tap the curved undo arrow from the top-right.

Split song parts to get perfect ringtone

8) Play around until you have the part of the song you wish to keep. Make sure the audio clip is positioned from the beginning of the timeline and is not somewhere in the middle or has an empty part on the left side.

Set correct position of tone in GarageBand editing timeline

9) If you see any empty area on the right, tap the tiny plus icon > Section A and reduce the number next to Manual by one or two points, as appropriate. Don’t decrease it too much, or else it will reduce the length of the ringtone. Or, preferably, you could also just stretch the right end of the song to increase the length of the ringtone and fill the gap.

Set correct length of the tone

Related: How to change the tempo in GarageBand

10) So by now, your editing timeline has the song edited into its desired length as the ringtone. To save it, tap the downward triangle icon from the top left and choose My Songs.

Save ringtone in GarageBand

11) Press the My Song file and tap Rename. Now, give it any name you want.

12) After renaming, press the file again and tap Share.

Rename and share ringtone in GarageBand

13) Tap Ringtone > Export.

Note: If you couldn’t keep the ringtone under 30 seconds, it will show a popup saying Your ringtone length needs to be adjusted. Read the popup and tap Continue.

Export Ringtone from GarageBand

14) You can tap Use sound as and set it as your ringtone or text tone now. Or, anytime in the future, go to the Settings app > Sounds & Haptics > Ringtone or Text Tone and choose the ringtone you created.

Set song as ringtone on iPhone without computer

This is how you can turn a song into a ringtone on your iPhone and use it.

How to use a third-party app to create and use a ringtone on iPhone

One search on the App Store for ringtone creation apps, and you’ll find several of them. These apps can offer you custom ringtones and even let you create one from a song in your iPhone’s Music app.

But you can’t use that tone to set it as the iPhone ringtone unless you use a computer. This is because Apple restricts any third-party app from adding a ringtone to your iPhone Settings. Only Apple’s own GarageBand has this privilege.

So, with the steps below, you can:

  • Effortlessly create a ringtone using one of these apps (it’s far easier than GarageBand) and save that ringtone to the Files app
  • After that, with just a few steps, use GarageBand to pick up that ringtone from the Files app and set it as your iPhone ringtone.

While most ringtone apps on the App Store are very old or need payment to work, there is one I have been using which hasn’t been updated in four years, but works flawlessly for our purpose even on iOS 15. It is Ringtone Maker.

Here’s how to easily turn any song into an iPhone ringtone with this app:

1) Open Ringtone Maker and allow it to access your Media library when it shows a popup.

2) Pick a DRM-free downloaded song from your Music app.

3) Tap Ringtone. Now, use the head to extend the time to 30 seconds. Next, swipe the wave to pick the desired 30 seconds portion of the song.

4) Tap the save button > Ok > Share Ringtone > Save to Files.

Ringtone Maker iPhone app

5) Now, open GarageBand and follow the steps described above. In step 4, pick the song you created using the Ringtone Maker app from the Files app. It’s already 30 seconds, so you don’t have to make any edits or adjustments in the GarageBand timeline. Simply save the tone > Share > Ringtone to use it.

Song as ringtone on iPhone

This is how you can use your iPhone to create and set a ringtone, all without needing a computer (as long as you have the song on your iPhone).

If you know how to play instruments (or want to explore and enjoy), you can make your ringtone from scratch using GarageBand’s various instruments like keyboard and drums.

Finally, if you’re willing to pay, the Tones section of the iTunes Store app is frequently updated with new ringtones. If you had purchased some earlier, you can re-download those ringtones without paying again.

To remove the song you created and added via GarageBand, go to iPhone Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Ringtone. From here, swipe left on a ringtone and tap Delete.

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