How To: Make Your Own Ringtones in GarageBand in Mac OS X

Phones today come with many options for ringtones, but pretty many of them are generally either boring, or something you wouldn’t really want to use as your ringtone. While there are tons of apps and websites out there that let you download other generic ringtones or purchase songs to use as ringtones, these aren’t good options because they can be very buggy, and very expensive. Well, If you’ve got a Mac with iLife, you can turn any song you own into a ringtone, and you can even use specific parts of the song! Keep reading to find out how!

First of all, choose your song, and remember: it doesn’t even technically have to be a song! This can be basically any audio file you want to use (or use a part of) as a ringtone. Remember that you want something that will sound relatively clear on your phones speaker, so try to avoid super low lows, as well as super high highs. Most songs are fine, but its something to keep in mind, as most handsets have relatively weak speakers.

Next, open up GarageBand and the Finder window. In GarageBand, you want to be creating a new song, so if it doesn’t by default, just go to “File -> New“, then New Project on the left and Loops on the right. Lastly, click Choose in the lower right corner.


In the new popup window, click “Create“.


Now switch over to your Finder window. Here, you’ll want to browse to the file you want to turn into a ringtone. Once you find it, simply drag it into GarageBand, and drop it into the Loops area in the center of your screen.


Once GarageBand has imported the track, we’re halfway there!

1. First, make sure the song is position correctly by clicking and dragging the track as far to the left as possible.

2. Now that we’ve done that, we want to trim the song down. Generally you want to use somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds so that the file size is easily used and manipulated. To trim your song down, just press the space bar to start listening to your track. When you find the part of the track you want to use as a ringtone, remember where it lies along the timeline at the top of the track. These marking make it easy to remember the section of song you want. 

3. Once you’ve decided, click at the beginning of the part you want to keep as your ringtone and click “Edit -> Split“. Now the song you imported will be split into two pieces. Delete the beginning piece that you don’t want. Now do the same for the part of the track that falls after where you want the song to end, and drag the remaining piece (which should be the part of the track or song you want to use as a ringtone) all the way to the left.


4. Now that you’ve got your ringtone ready, the last step is getting it onto your phone. To do this, first drag the scroll bar in GarageBand as far right as it can go and look for a little arrow in the timeline at the top of the window. This arrow signifies the end of your song, and you will just need to drag it to the left to where you want your ringtone to end, so that you don’t have a bunch of silence.


Now, we just need to save the ringtone to get it on your phone! This varies with phone type, but here are the most common ways to do it:

  • If you have an iPhone, you may know that you can add ringtones from iTunes. This is super simple: in GarageBand’s Share Menu, just hit “Send Song to iTunes“, then add the ringtone to your iPhone through iTunes like you would for any other ringtone.
  • If you have another smartphone, like an Android phone, just hit that same Share Menu, but then click Export Song to Disk. Then save the track as an MP3 and put it on your smartphone, and set it as a ringtone from there.
  • If you don’t have a smartphone, sometimes the best way to get the ringtone to your phone is to send it as an MMS over email. To do this, create a new email in whatever email app or website you use, and address the email to your cell phone number. This address can vary depending on your carrier, but a quick Google search can give you what address you’ll need to use. The ringtone will come into your phone as an MMS, and you can usually save the audio from the MMS as a ringtone.


Do you have any questions or know  of another way to create your own ringtones on a Mac?  Let us know in the comments!

Colin Scattergood

Frankly, Colin is a big geek about the things in which he's interested. From tech to science to the business behind it all...When Colin get's in to something, he really get's in to it. Mac's and Android phones are his forte, but you name it and he probably uses it. He's an avid pilot and is also deeply interested in the industries that encompass his technical and well, sort of nerdy hobbies. He is open to any and all communication, so feel free to shoot him an email with comments, questions, suggestions or corrections at any time! Visit him at or

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