How to Set Ringtone in iPhone Without iTunes: The Ultimate Guide

Setting a personalized ringtone on your iPhone has always been a way to add a touch of individuality to your device. In the past, iTunes was the most popular medium for this task, but the platform has evolved, and so have the methods for setting a ringtone. For those who want a step-by-step guide on how to set a ringtone in an iPhone without iTunes, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll delve deep into the details of three alternative methods: using GarageBand, employing a File Manager App, and utilizing a Cloud Service.

What You’ll Need

Before we begin, let’s gather the tools you’ll need for the process:

  • An iPhone: Make sure your iPhone is running iOS 9 or later.
  • A File Manager App: ‘Documents by Readdle’ is a popular choice.
  • An Audio File: Have an audio file that you want to use as your ringtone. It should be in a compatible format like MP3 or AAC.

Method 1: Using GarageBand

Download and Install GarageBand

The first step is to download GarageBand from the App Store. This is a free app provided by Apple, which allows you to create music and, yes, ringtones. Just head to the App Store, search for GarageBand, and tap the download button.

Open the App

Once the app is installed, find the GarageBand icon on your home screen and tap it to open the app. You’ll be greeted with several options for new projects.

Start a New Project

To initiate your ringtone project, tap the ‘+’ button located usually at the top right corner of the screen. This action will bring up different instruments that you can use, but for the purpose of setting a ringtone, we’ll focus on the ‘Audio Recorder’ option.

Select ‘Audio Recorder’

Tap the ‘Audio Recorder’ option. You’ll see a studio-like interface appear, but don’t be intimidated; it’s quite straightforward.

Import Your Song

Next, tap the loop-shaped icon on the upper-right corner of the screen. This opens the Loop Browser, where you can import your audio file. Go to the ‘Files’ tab and browse for the audio file you want to convert into a ringtone.

Edit the Audio File

Now comes the creative part. With GarageBand’s easy-to-use interface, you can trim the audio to fit into the 30-second limitation imposed on iPhone ringtones. Just drag the edges of the audio file to trim or loop it. You can also add effects if you want.

Export as Ringtone

Once you’re satisfied with the audio clip, it’s time to export. Tap on the downward-pointing arrow at the upper-left corner and select “My Songs” to save your project. Next, press and hold your newly created project and tap on the ‘Share’ button that appears. Among the options, choose ‘Ringtone.’

Name and Set

Here, you’ll be prompted to name your new ringtone. Once you’ve named it, tap ‘Export.’ After a few seconds, a new window will appear, asking whether you want to set this audio as your new ringtone. You can either set it right away or do it later through the iPhone’s settings.

Method 2: Using a File Manager App

Why Use a File Manager App?

File manager apps like ‘Documents by Readdle allow you to manage various file types, including audio files, conveniently. This method is beneficial if you want to skip the iTunes hassle and manage your ringtone files directly.

Downloading and Importing

Download ‘Documents by Readdle’ from the App Store and open it. Import your desired audio file into the app’s file directory. This can usually be done by tapping a ‘+’ icon or an ‘Import’ button within the app.

Move the File to GarageBand

After importing, you’ll need to move the audio file to the GarageBand directory within your iPhone. Use the file manager to navigate to the GarageBand directory and move the file.

The Final Steps

From this point, the process mirrors Method 1. Open GarageBand, find your audio file, and follow steps 6-8 to convert it into a ringtone.

Method 3: Using a Cloud Service

Benefits of Cloud Services

Using cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox is a good idea if you have an audio file saved on a different device or if you wish to maintain a backup of your ringtone.

Uploading and Downloading

First, upload your chosen audio file to your cloud service. Then, open the respective cloud service app on your iPhone and download the file.

Import to GarageBand

Once downloaded, you can use the ‘Files’ app on your iPhone to move the audio file to GarageBand. Then, similar to the previous methods, follow steps 6-8 of Method 1 to create your ringtone.

FAQs: Setting a Ringtone on iPhone Without iTunes

1. Can I use any audio file format as a ringtone on my iPhone?

Answer: iPhones typically support audio formats like MP3, AAC, WAV, and AIFF. However, when using apps like GarageBand to create a ringtone, it’s best to stick with commonly supported formats like MP3 or AAC. If you encounter compatibility issues, there are various apps and online tools available to convert your audio file to a supported format.

2. Is there a length limitation for ringtones on the iPhone?

Answer: Yes, the iPhone limits ringtones to a maximum of 30 seconds. If your selected audio clip is longer, you’ll need to trim or choose a specific 30-second section when creating your ringtone in GarageBand or any other app.

3. Are there any free alternatives to GarageBand for setting custom ringtones?

Answer: GarageBand is a popular and free tool provided by Apple, but there are third-party apps available in the App Store that can also help you create and set custom ringtones. Always read app reviews and check for any hidden costs or in-app purchases before downloading.

4. Can I set different ringtones for different contacts using these methods?

Answer: Yes, once you’ve created and set your custom ringtone using one of these methods, you can assign specific ringtones to individual contacts. To do this, go to the Contacts app, select a contact, tap “Edit”, and then tap “Ringtone” to choose your preferred tone for that contact.

5. I’ve set a new ringtone, but I’m not hearing it. What could be the issue?

Answer: First, ensure that your iPhone isn’t on silent mode and that the volume is turned up. Then, head to Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Ringtone to confirm that your new custom ringtone is selected. If everything seems fine, restart your iPhone. If the issue persists, it might be beneficial to retrace the steps to ensure the ringtone was set correctly.


Personalizing your iPhone doesn’t have to be a complicated task, nor does it need to involve iTunes. With tools like GarageBand, file manager apps, and cloud services, you can set a ringtone that suits your style with ease. Just follow the steps outlined in this guide, and you’ll be setting the tone—literally—for your iPhone experience in no time!

Disclaimer: Please respect copyright laws and only use audio that you own or have permission to use as a ringtone.

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