Adding custom ringtones to your iPhone

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The iPhone comes with 25 ringtones, with the ability to set a different one to different contacts. But what if default ringtones like Bark, Marimba, Old Car Horn, and Trill just don't do anything for you? Sadly, with an out-of-the-box iPhone, you’re out of luck—there’s no built-in way to customize your ringtones.

If that sounds like a minor inconvenience, for a lot of power phone users, it’s not. I know—I include myself in that group, and customizing ringtones is usually one of the first things I do when I get a phone.

You’ll notice I included the phrase “built-in” when I said that there was no way to change your iPhone ringtones. That’s because Apple may not have offered a method, but enterprising members of the iPhone community have. There are at least two ringtone hacks at there that allow you to modify your ringtones—both iFuntastic and iRingtoner are available at the ModifyMyiPhone community site. I tried out iFuntastic to successfully restore Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” as the ringtone for my incoming calls. And I’d like to walk you through how it works.

A word of caution, first: Apple doesn’t sanction these hacks, so if something goes wrong, chances are the Genius at your local Apple Store will be unsympathetic to your woes. Again, this hack worked just fine for me, but if this sort of thing makes you nervous, best leave your $499 mobile phone with its standard ringtones.

After downloading the free iFuntastic, here’s what you do to get an Ozzy ringtone (or one from a lesser artist) on your phone. (I did this by following exNavy’s iFuntastic ringtone installation document on the modmyiPhone wiki.)

Step 1: Plug your iPhone into your Mac, quitting both iTunes and iTunes Helper—to quit the latter you’ll need to use Activity Monitor.

Quitting iTunes Helper in Activity Monitor

Step 2: Launch iFuntastic, and click number 2. This allows you to choose a ringtones folder. The hack supports the MP3 and AAC .m4a file formats, so any files you drop in the ringtones folder will be automatically recognized. However, it doesn’t support purchased AAC (.m4p) files from iTunes, so you’ll need to keep that in mind when choosing a ringtone.

iFuntastic’s interface: Click the Prepare Ringtones option to choose a ringtones folder. (Displayed here: what iFuntastic looks like during step 4.)

Step 3: Click the Unlock button in iFuntastic and hold down the Home and Wake/Sleep buttons on the iPhone for a full 25 seconds. You will notice the Apple logo at about 15 seconds—keep holding them down until you see the yellow triangle with the notice “Please Connect to iTunes.”

Obey your iPhone.

The iPhone will then reboot a second time, displaying the white Apple logo. But this time when it connects to your Mac, it’ll be connecting to iFuntastic. Your iPhone will chirp and iFuntastic will play a creepy little sound effect.

Step 4: iFuntastic’s ringtones list will update to include all the ringtones on your iPhone. The ringtones on your local system have a hard drive icon next to them. Click the ringtone you want on the iPhone and a green plus (+) sign appears next to it. You can remove a ringtone that is on the iPhone by clicking the red x that appears next to it.

Step 5: Click the update button and your ringtone will be uploaded to the iPhone.

Step 6: Once you’re done, click the lock button. Then hold down the Home and Wake/Sleep buttons on your iPhone until you see the Apple logo, and click the Done button in iFuntastic.

Now on your iPhone, tap Settings -> Sounds -> Ringtones. The ringtones you added to your phone should be listed alongside the stock ringtones from Apple.

If you did everything right, you now have Ozzy Osbourne announcing your incoming calls. Or another artist, I suppose—we try not to judge.

[ Jim Dalrymple is's news director. ]

This article was updated at 4:45 p.m. Eastern on July 27, 2007 to add more information on AAC files from iTunes.

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