How can I turn a spooky song into an iPhone ringtone for Halloween?

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

To get in the mood for Halloween, I purchased “Monster Mash” by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers in iTunes. I lost that song file, and I couldn't download it again. Fortunately, I had burned it to an audio CD so I just re-imported it into iTunes. The surprising thing is that before losing it, iTunes wouldn't let me create a ringtone from that song, but now it does. What gives?
Burning a CD from a song purchased in iTunes does not make a bit-perfect digital copy. Instead, iTunes converts it to a format that audio CD players understand. Also, the reverse process of importing a song from a CD into iTunes does not make a bit-perfect digital copy. They're close, but not perfect.

The process of burning a CD, then re-importing the song into iTunes, removes any objection that iTunes may have had for creating a ringtone from it.

I'll bet that now you're really curious about how to make your own ringtone from songs in iTunes, right? OK, here's how:
  • Use the most recent version of iTunes, because it can create ringtones.
  • Play your chosen song in iTunes, and write down the starting and stopping times of the portion of the song you want to use for your ringtone.
  • Select the song in iTunes, then choose File> Get Info.
  • In the Get Info dialog box, click on the Options tab, then enter your Start and Stop times in the area labeled Start Time and Stop Time. The format is Minutes:Seconds:Thousandths of a second. You can ignore the Thousandths if you want. But be sure to check the checkboxes next to them, because this enables the Start and Stop times.
  • Click the OK button to save your changes and to close the Get Info box.
  • With the song still selected, choose Advanced> Create AAC Version. This will make a copy of the song, but shortened to the times you indicated.
  • Before you forget, go back to the original song and uncheck those checkboxes next to Stop Time and Start Time, so that when you next play it, the entire song will play.
  • Select the new, shortened song, and drag it onto the Desktop. This will make a copy of it on the Desktop.
  • Select this new file on your Desktop, and change its file extension to .m4r. (The R indicates ringtone.)
  • Go back to iTunes and delete the short version that you created. You no longer need it.
  • Drag the shortened file with the .m4r extension from your Desktop onto the Library item in the left column of iTunes.
  • It should now show up in the Ringtones section under the Library in the left column of iTunes, ready to be used on any phone that understands such things. 

Let the Monster Mashing begin!

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail, or go to their website:

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