What you need:
iPhone with software version 1.1.2 or higher
iTunes 7.6 or higher
GarageBand 4.1.1 or higher
Mac OS X – 10.5.2 recommended
Believe it or not there is a free and relatively simple way to create iPhone ringtones from any iTunes song using Garageband. Of course for a simpler route you can use the popular shareware program iToner, however for this tutorial we are going to cover GarageBand. Your only limit is a 40 second time restraint and the inability to use a purchased iTunes song with Apple’s DRM on it. (You could remove the DRM by burning the track to an Audio CD, but we won’t cover that here.) To get started you need a Mac, the most recent version of Mac OS X is recommended. You also need the latest version of iTunes and GarageBand – and of course you should make sure your iPhone software is up to date.
1. Open iTunes and search your Library for the song you wish to create as a ringtone. Make sure that your selected song is not in the protected AAC format which has Digital Rights Management imbedded in the file. If you try and import this type file you will get an error message in GarageBand. To check if your song format right-click or control-click on the file and select Get Info, the type will be displayed in the Kind field under the Summary tab.
2. Open GarageBand and create a new document, the default settings will do for what we want to work with. Switch back to iTunes, drag the song file from your iTunes window into the main gray area in GarageBand. The song will be imported and will be ready for you to edit.
Just drag your iTunes song into GarageBand to start making your ringtone.
3. In GarageBand select the Share menu and choose ‘Send Ringtone to iTunes’ – a dialog box should appear warning you that your song needs to be 40 seconds or less, so click the Adjust button. A yellow bar will appear at the top of the screen in GarageBand by the time. Drag the yellow bar to the 40 second mark to help you remember where your song will cut off. Also, in the digital measurement/timer display (directly between the main play button and the main volume display towards the bottom of the window) choose the clock icon to show the time of the song.
4. Now we want to arrange and edit our song. In our situation our song starts out fine for us, so all we are going to do is add a fade out at the end of the 40 second mark. However, if you don’t want to start from the beginning of the song you can go into the Track Editor panel and adjust the starting point of your song.
Go to the end of the song at the 40 second mark, we’re going to start a Fade Out and then adjust it, so you don’t have to be exact on your selection just yet. Select your track and from the Track menu select Fade Out. You will now see a purple field toward the bottom of the screen to the right of the Master Volume bar. This is where you want your editing to be as close as possible. Drag the red slider mark to a point where you want to start the fade. I recommend 2-3 seconds before the 40 second mark (the end of the ringtone). Now click once in the purple line directly where your red slider is marked – this will create a purple dot. Try not to move your mouse up or down as this will effect the volume. Now do the same at the 40 second mark, except this time when you click to make a new purple point you want to drag the point down to the bottom, which will silence the volume. Your fade out is complete.
You can edit the length of your Fade Out by using the purple levels.
5. Rewind the track or drag the slider to the beginning of the track. Playback your ringtone to make sure you are satisfied with everything. If not, now is the time to go back and do some editing. If you’re all done once again go to the Share menu and select “Send Ringtone to iTunes” This time we won’t see a dialog box, instead we will see GarageBand converting the file for iTunes. After this is done iTunes will show the new Ringtone in the Ringtone section and play the song.
Once you’re done editing GarageBand will send your ringtone to iTunes.
You’re all done. Now depending on your iPhone setup you can sync your new ringtone to your phone or add it to the list of ringtones you manually manage.
Note: If you have the Get Info window (Song Summary) window open in iTunes while GarageBand is trying to export the ringtone it will appear to freeze. If this happens just close the window in iTunes to resolve the problem.