How to Make a Ringtone Without GarageBand

To make a ringtone without GarageBand on your iPhone, you’ll need a way to create M4R files because this is the type of audio file your iPhone uses. You’ll need an app that can do this or a way to download the files onto your phone

My name is Donovan, and I’ve been working with GarageBand for years. I’m also a Mac and iPhone user, so I know many of the tools and features on these devices, including how to make a ringtone. 

This post will show you how to make a ringtone without GarageBand. I’ll walk you through some steps to make this happen quickly and provide you with some other information about ringtones and your iPhone. 

Let’s jump in. 

Key Takeaways

  • Ringtones on your iPhone must be in the M4R file format, so you need a way to convert audio files to that format or need to download those onto your phone. 
  • An app like GarageBand can make it easy to convert songs to ringtones, even though you can technically do it without them. 
  • An M4R file is specific to iPhones and is also called a MPEG-4 file. It’s basically just the ringtone version of an M4A file. 

How to Make a Ringtone Without GarageBand on Mac

Using your Mac to make a ringtone is an easy way to turn it into a ringtone you can use on your phone. The ideal way to do this is to convert any files you want to turn into ringtones to the proper file format for them to work on your iPhone. 

You also need to trim the songs to be under 30 seconds for them to work as a ringtone. Trimming refers to shortening the overall length of a song. You can’t have an entire 3 or 4-minute song be your ringtone. 

You can take an audio file you have on your Mac and turn it into the proper file format and trim it. You just might need to use other apps to make this happen. This isn’t complicated, but it might be easier to just do the whole process on GarageBand. 

To make a ringtone without GarageBand on Mac, follow these steps: 

1. Locate the file you want to turn into a ringtone. 

2. Edit the file to 30-seconds or less and convert it into an M4R file. You can use an app to do this, and there are also several websites that will convert the files for free. Online-Convert is one option I’ve used, but there are others that do the same thing. 

3. Follow the prompts or steps within the file converter option that you choose to turn your track into a ringtone file format compatible with your iPhone. 

4. Save the file to your Mac, and remember the location. 

5. Send the file to your iPhone. You can do this by sending via messages, email, AirDrop, or any other means of easy file transfer. 

6. Make sure that the file is transferred to your iPhone and note the location where you save it on the phone, whether in your files, iCloud, or another place. 

7. Open the Settings on your iPhone. 

8. Scroll down and tap Sounds & Haptics.

9. Tap Ringtone.

10. Select the ringtone that you sent to your iPhone. You should be able to select the file from the list of available ringtone sounds. 

11. Your ringtone is now set with the song you selected. 

How to Make a Ringtone without GarageBand or Computer

If you don’t have a Mac computer or any other computer, you can still make a ringtone on GarageBand and set it on your phone. You’ll follow a similar process to the steps outlined in the section above, but you’ll convert the file on your phone’s browser. 

Note that you’ll need the song file you want to turn into a ringtone downloaded onto your phone to turn it into a ringtone. So you’ll need to transfer or download songs in whatever way you choose to make this happen. 

Once you have the file located on your phone, you’ll want to make sure it’s converted into the proper format. You can use the browser on your iPhone to do this and can use the same M4R file converter that I mentioned in the steps above.

Once the file is converted, you can follow steps 7 through 11 in the section above to set it as your ringtone. 

Why It’s Easier to Use GarageBand to Make Ringtones

If you have an Apple device like a Mac or an iPhone, the easiest way to make a ringtone is to use the GarageBand app. The app is free and comes preloaded on these devices, and the process of making a ringtone with it is very easy. 

You can check out my post on how to make a ringtone with GarageBand for a step-by-step look at how to do this quickly and easily. It’s really the easiest way to trim an audio file to the proper length and convert it to the appropriate format for a ringtone on your iPhone. 

Even though I gave you the steps to make a ringtone without GarageBand here, I don’t know any reason why you would choose the longer process unless, for some reason, you can’t download the app on your device. 

It’s good to know how to use a file converter, like the one I linked to in the section above, but GarageBand also has this feature. If you are looking for the easiest way to make a ringtone, GarageBand is the way to go. 


Here are a few quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about making a ringtone without GarageBand.

How do I make custom ringtones for my iPhone? 

GarageBand is an excellent way to create custom ringtones for your iPhone. The app will allow you to trim files to the correct length for a ringtone and then covert them into M4R files, which is the specific file needed to be compatible with iPhone ringtones.  

How do I set a ringtone from my files? 

The process for setting a ringtone from your files is slightly different on every device, but you generally need to go into your settings and then access the sounds or ringtones section. From there, you should be able to access the file you want to set as your ringtone. 

Where are iPhone ringtone files? 

iPhone ringtone files are located in the Sounds & Haptics section of the Settings folder. You can access them by entering your settings and tapping Sounds & Haptics. This will show you all the available files you can use as a ringtone. 

Final Thoughts

You can make a ringtone without GarageBand by trimming an audio file to a short length and then converting it into an M4R file format. You can do this on your computer or iPhone by using an audio converter app. 

I think the easiest way to make a ringtone for your iPhone is to use GarageBand. If you want to set a ringtone from the songs you have downloaded quickly and easily, the app gives you everything needed to make this happen. 

Do you like using custom ringtones or the preinstalled tones on your iPhone? Let me know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Tehee

    I’ve converted the track I wanted into M4R file and saved it in Drive but couldn’t find it in the ringtone settings.

    My phone cannot download garage band either due to insufficient ios version

    Do you have any guide to fix this?

    • Donovan

      Hey Tehee,

      It sounds like you are dealing with iOS issues, and updating your phone to the most current would help you fix things. Is there a reason you are running an older iOS? You are likely to run into a number of issues with other apps and tasks as well, not just with GarageBand and ringtones. You can try downloading the Drive file directly to your iPhone rather than just in the cloud. This should put the file on your iPhone, and you can set up the ringtone from there following the steps I outlined. But again, if you don’t update iOS, none of my suggestions or tips may help. Keep me posted, and I’ll try to provide more assistance if I can.