Add custom ringtone to iPhone: How to do it in macOS Catalina?

Add custom ringtone to iPhone? Are you wondering how to do that with macOS Catalina? Sometimes Apple does a messy job, and we all agree with that, right? But we all love Apple for the intuitive and user-friendly work they do.

With recent updates of macOS and iTunes being gone from the system, adding custom ringtones to the iPhone from your Mac has become a messy job. But worry not, today I bought an easy step-by-step guide that you can follow along with and get the job done.

But before we proceed, understand what we need to add a custom ringtone to your iPhone. Okay?

Video Tutorial

If you want to follow the text tutorial, follow the methods below.

Things We Need

The following are the things you need to add a custom ringtone to your iPhone:

  • The song’s file (preferably mp3) or song already added to your Music on macOS.
  • Your iPhone (obviously :P)
  • Apple Lightning Cable (Recommended to use authentic Apple cables)
  • Your Mac on OS Catalina
  • Internet Connectivity (only for method 2)

Let’s start quickly and get that beat to your iPhone.

Steps to follow: Method 1

Step 1: Copy the Song File to Music Library

Open Music on your macOS, and copy the song file of which you wanna make a ringtone to the ‘Songs’ tab by dragging it. If you have the song already in your ‘Songs’ tab, skip this step.

Copy the Song File to Music Library - Add custom ringtone to iPhone
Copy the Song File to Music Library

In the above pic, I wanna make a section of this mp3 file as my iPhone ringtone.

Step 2: Get Info oF the Song

Right-click on the song you just dragged and click ‘Get Info.’ This will pop up a new window as shown in the figure below.

Get Info - Add custom ringtone to iPhone
Get Info of the Song

Step 3: Changing the Duration

Now, you can have ringtone which is of more than 30 seconds, that’s why we’re going to change the duration of the song to comply with standards.

Hover over the ‘Options’ tab on the new window that popped up and click on it. You’ll see ‘start’ and ‘stop’ checkboxes, make sure they are ticked. Now fill in the values such that the difference of ‘stop’ from ‘start’ is no more than 0:30:00 (30 seconds).

So it can be like 0:20:10 and 0:50:10 or 0:33:15 and 1:03:15 etc. Did you get the gist, right? Just in case you’re confused, see the pic below:

Change Duration - Add custom ringtone to iPhone
Changing the Duration

After you filled in the value, click ‘ok’ to close the window.

Step 4: Creating an AAC version

Not calling out the technicalities; just know that we need to convert the file to an AAC version of it in order to work it on our iPhones.

Keep the song file clicked on Music and hover over the ‘File’ near the Apple logo on the top left. Click on it, go to ‘Convert’ and then ‘Create AAC version.’ Within a few seconds, an AAC version of the file (of exclusively 30 seconds) will be created and you’ll be treated with classic ‘Tri-tone’ once it’s done successfully.

See the pic below.

Create AAC Version - Add custom ringtone to iPhone
Creating an AAC version

Step 5: Moving to Desktop

Now, let’s just move the freshly created file onto our desktop for easy access.

Right-click on the new song file (the AAC version), and click on ‘Show in Finder.’ A new window opens. Simply move this file to the desktop, as we’re going to mess with this file.

Show and Move in FInder - Add custom ringtone to iPhone
Moving to Desktop

Step 6: Changing Extension

Make sure you’ve moved the correct file, it’s with the .m4a extension. See the pic below.

Now hit enter to rename it, change the extension of the file (the last part after the dot) from .m4a to .m4r, and hit enter again. Once you hit enter, a new window will open, asking you to confirm the changes. Just make sure you confirm it or click ‘Use .m4r’

Change from m4a to m4r
Changing Extension

Now you’ve successfully created the ringtone, and all that’s left is to add this custom ringtone to your iPhone.

Step 7: Adding Custom Ringtone to iPhone

Connect your iPhone to your Mac (running Catalina or higher) and open the Finder. Find your iPhone under ‘Locations’ on the left sidebar. Click on it, and on the right sidebar, make sure you’re on the ‘General’ tab. Scroll down and find the checkbox that says ‘Manually manage music, movies, and TV shows and make sure it’s checked.

Now open the Music app. In the devices tab on the left sidebar, now you can find your iPhone listed. Select your iPhone and just drag the .m4r ringtone from the desktop to your right sidebar (ensure you’ve selected your iPhone under devices in Music.)

Move m4r to your iPhone
Adding Custom Ringtone to iPhone

And that’s it. You did it, congratulations. Pull up your iPhone and check out the new ringtone.

Now I’m gonna show you another considerably easy way to add a custom ringtone to the iPhone without much clutter. Easy and sleek, just the way you like it 😛

So, this uses a website (a web app if you wanna know), and here’s how it goes.

Steps to follow: Method 2 (Easy, requires Internet)

Step 1: Head to this site

Click here or directly go to via your browser. As soon as it opens, choose the song file (or drag over it) of which you wanna make a ringtone and upload it.

Uploading Song File

Step 2: Changing the Duration

I’m repeating it here yet again. We need the song to be not more than 30 seconds in order to make it the custom ringtone for iPhone.

So follow this pic to make the file 30 seconds or change the in and out points via the headers circled red in the following pic. Okay?

Editing Song File
Editing Song File

Step 4: Choosing the Right File Type

After you’re happy with your modifications, it’s time to get the .m4r version of the song. Find out where it’s written ‘Save as:’, choose .m4r and hit the ‘Cut’ button. See the pic below.

Choosing the Right File Type
Choosing the Right File Type

Step 5: Downloading to Your Computer and Adding to iPhone

After you’ve completed all the above steps for this method, you’ll be next greeted with an option to ‘Save’ your ringtone. Hit save, and your custom ringtone for your iPhone will be downloaded.

After you download the ringtone, locate it and drag it to the desktop and follow step 7 of method 1.

Downloading the Ringtone
Downloading the Ringtone

And then that’s it. Now you’ve your ringtone right in your iPhone.


Doing such easy tasks doesn’t have to give you a headache, at least that’s what I believe. I hope you have fun learning here and get your favorite song into your iPhone as your custom ringtone. Stuck somewhere? Get me in the comments box 🙂

By the way, what’s your current iPhone ringtone?

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