Changing the extension and setting your ringtone
Step 6: Change the extension
AAC files generally use the file extension “.m4a” as you may notice when you click on the file. For ringtones, iTunes uses the “.m4r” extension, which is the same as .m4a but with a different name. We will need to change the extension to .m4r in order to use this clip as a ringtone. Navigate to the desktop — or wherever you saved the file — click the file’s name, and change the extension from “.m4a” to “.m4r.”
Click the Use .m4r or Yes button in the resulting window to confirm the changes.
Note: Windows users may find that they are unable to change the file extension. This is likely because their system is set to not show file extensions. To change this, open the Control Panel from the Start menu — you can also search for the Control Panel app in Windows 10 — and select Appearance and Personalization.
Next, click File Explorer Options.
Afterward, click the View tab, uncheck the box for “Hide extensions for known file types,” and click the Apply button. Now you should be able to see and edit the extension for the file.
Step 7: Add file to iTunes
Having changed the .m4a file to a .m4r extension, we need to add it back to iTunes. Click the file tab on PC and select add file to library.
This will open a file browser. Next, go the the file’s location, select it, and click Open. Because iTunes recognizes .m4r files as ringtones, it will automatically add it to the Tones section. Now the only step left is to sync your iPhone with iTunes as you would normally.
Step 8: Sync your iPhone
Connect your iPhone with your iTunes library as you would normally via USB or using your wireless network. Afterward, click the iPhone icon in the upper-left corner, select the Tones section in the left-hand navigation bar, and check the bubble directly left of either All tones or the Selected tones option. If you choose the latter option, remember to check the bubble directly left of your recently-made ringtone from the resulting list below. Click the gray Sync button in the bottom-right corner when finished.
Step 9: Set the ringtone
Tap the main Settings app while viewing the iPhone homescreen, followed by Sounds and the Ringtone option near the bottom of the resulting menu. Afterward, select your desired ringtone from the top of the resulting list. Also, keep in mind you can always set the new ringtone as your text, voicemail, or email tone in addition to your notification sound for Facebook posts and tweets. A tone is a tone when it comes to Apple, and as such, you can use it as the default sound for any notification or alert. Repeat the process as necessary!
This article was originally published on November 10, 2014, and updated on April 1, 2016, by Will Nicol to include instructions for the latest software.