How to Set a Custom Android Ringtone

Your ringtone is the most basic and common way of customising your phone to better suit you. I live in an apartment inside a bed and breakfast, so I’d like to set my tone to Madness’s classic track, Bed and Breakfast Man. I’ve already got the MP3, but how do I set it to play whenever someone calls me?

Settings > Sound > Incoming calls: Phone ringtone lets you pick from a selection of default tunes.

Select this option from the Sound menu... open this list.

These are simply OGG music files, stored in your internal storage, in the \system\media\audio\ringtones folder.

See? Same tracks as in the list.

Moving new music files to that folder isn’t possible on all phones, and would quickly waste all your internal storage anyway — but don’t worry, there’s an alternative location on the SD card that you can use: \media\audio\ringtones.

You may need to create the ringtones, audio, and even media folder yourself; you can do this either through Android itself, using a file manager like ASTRO, or by plugging it your phone into your computer, mounting the SD card as a drive, and using your desktop operating system to create new directories.

Next, copy the MP3 to this \ringtones\ folder. Again, you can do this on your phone directly with an app like ASTRO, or you can use your computer’s OS.

Copying via Windows

Unfortunately not all sound formats are supported. Most notably, the AAC (M4A) format that iTunes uses by default won’t work in Froyo; you’ll need to convert this to MP3 format first (just right-click the song in iTunes and select Create MP3 Version).

Once you’ve copied the tune, go back to Settings > Sound > Incoming calls: Phone ringtone and look for it. It might have the name of the song or of the file, depending on how the ID3 tags are set up.


It’ll begin playing as soon as you select it. Congratulations, you’ve set a custom ringtone!

Setting a Custom SMS Tone

Setting a custom notification for your SMS messages, picture messages, emails, and so on, is just as easy as setting a custom ringtone. The difference is, you must move the sound file to the \media\audio\notifications folder. Once you’ve done that, you can set the general notification tone in Settings > Sound > Notifications: Notification ringtone.

However, do bear in mind that playing a three minute MP3 every time you receive a text is going to get pretty annoying! Some phones actually cut the tune off after the first few seconds.

Selecting a Specific Section of the Song

The song will play from the start of the track, and this might not be the ideal point for a ringtone (particularly for a notification). You can select a specific section of the song to use by editing the MP3 on your computer with a piece of music software like GoldWave, and removing everything apart from the clip you want to hear.

You can use such software to adjust the speed and remix it with other tracks as well — but that topic’s more suited to Audiotuts+ 😉

But what if you don’t want to copy tracks to and from your computer, and use desktop software, just to set your favourite part of your favourite song as your ringtone? There’s got to be an app for that…

Enter Ringdroid

Ringdroid is a free, open-source ringtone editor, available on the Market here. It’s my app of choice for dealing with ringtones.

It lets you search through all the music files on your phone — including those you’ve already set as ringtones — so that you can quickly find the one you want.

Searching for Breakfast

From there, you can long-press the tune to bring up a menu that allows you to make it your default ringtone, delete it, or set it as the ringtone to play whenever a specific contact calls you. You can also use the built-in editor to trim away any parts of the song you don’t want to be played:

Ringdroid's editor

The editor’s interface is wonderful. You drag the upper-left and lower-right tabs (or the text boxes in the lower left corner) to set the start and end points of the selection, using the waveform display to get some idea of where you are in the song. Zoom in to get a more detailed view of the waveform, or out to see the whole song. Hit Play to hear how the clip sounds so far.

Once you’re happy with your selection, hit the Save icon, and you’re given the option to save it as a ringtone, music track, alarm, or notification — and all without having to connect your phone to a computer. Perfect for those people who change their ringtones daily to suit their mood. I know you exist.

Other Useful Apps

If you find Ringdroid useful, check out these apps too.

Group Ringtones, as featured in my Essential Apps and Tips roundup, allows you to set a custom ringtone to a specific group of people, as defined in your Contacts. Very useful if you want to have separate ringtones for work colleagues, family members, and friends, without having to set them all individually.

Ringtonium is a great alternative to Ringdroid. We reviewed it here.

Tasker lets you customise your ringtone based on all sorts of factors, even beyond who’s calling you: the time of day, the date, your location, whether you’re wearing headphones… it offers a huge amount of customization. Take a look at our full review of Tasker to see what else it can do.

Looking For More?

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  • Sam Cater

    Did it through Audacity :) I now have Jimmy Carr going ‘Where are the pheasant’s, there’s no bloody pheasants!’ as my ringtone ;D

    • Michael James Williams

      Pheasants?! What sort of a menagerie do you imagine I’m imagining?

    • asd

      I love you! You saved my life with this tutorial!| I needed the “abulaabulaabulaabulambulanza” ringtone and now I can do it! Thanks again! <3

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  • fOt sEl

    can we set sms tone different from other notifications tone? android eclair..ty

    • Michael James Williams

      Yep, check the options in your various apps to see how to set their notification tones to differ from the default.

  • D

    Thank You SOOOOOOOOOO Much!!!!!!

  • nicolas

    Thanks, Great easy tutorial.

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  • MobiTourist

    Beautiful ringtones app: iRingtones – Christmas

  • hutman47

    We are very happy to give you a new nice app, i Ringtones – Merry christmas. With this application, you able setting incomming call ringtone, notification ringtone, alarm ringtone for your mobile with over tops 50 famous christmas songs of all time easily.

  • Oscar

    Oh yes, Epic Sax Guy is my new ringtone.

  • Alex Frachetta

    very useful! cheers!

  • PatW.

    WOW…I’ve been searching the net relentlessly to find this answer! How ironic that I just figured this out (by accident) today! But, I still appreciate your guidance because it lets me know that this is probably the best/only way to do it.

    It’s my pleasure to say you are awesome for sharing your knowledge, and that you have surely helped many!


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  • Twimagic is the best ringtone maker I’ve ever seen! Completely free, online, no registration!

  • JOshua

    how to set sms ringtone from your downloaded app ?

  • dkloke

    stellar, thank you for pointing out Ringdroid

  • Jiwaba Acharekar

    Thx for help!!!

  • R.S.

    omg thank you soooo much. i’ve been look all over the net for this but all i could find was ways to put them ringtones in a folder on the sd card.
    i was specifically looking for the location of ringtones on the phone itself.
    thank you this was exactly what i needed.

  • Jamie

    I change ringtones very often, as new music hit I hear, and that was exactly what I need because I bought new Sony Ericsson Arc with Android, thank u once more. To make my ringtones I use this online mp3 to ringtones maker with fade effects futures, and I was looking the same for Android ….

  • jared

    you may need to restart your phone for them to show on the ringtone list. i had too. but after reboot all is good

    have a samsung intercept

  • Elle

    Just upload your audio file to and cut it yourself there.

  • tag

    just us thinkfree office its a file manager. find the song > options> use as ringtone.
    Problem solved.

  • Casey

    Is there any way to set a different SMS tone for individual contacts?

    • Michael James Williams

      Yep: open the Contacts app, long-press a contact, select Edit, then scroll down to Ringtone.

  • Mitch

    On Ice Cream Sandwich you can use AAC files as Ringtones, Notifications, Alarms, and so on. Good for Google.

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  • Rabindra Nath Koley

    That’s really help full….

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  • Alan – Motorola Atrix

    Man, or dudess, you rock!
    Now when someone calls I get Departure from MMZ as ringtone and a strong Sho-ryu-ken when an SMS arrives, you just made my day!!

    • Michael James Williams

      Haha awesome.

  • zafar

    Thanks a lot boss, You have saved my lots of precious time.

  • rin

    very helpful!!!

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  • Fahad

    thanks for the information. really android is the best OS

  • liltree

    can you please tell me how to do this on gingerbread android version 2.3.6 because i can even browse any files when i open them they are all blank

  • tasha

    how do i set song that are saved under the music icon on my droid to a notification tone

  • M

    You just add the ringtone as a song then use the first button (up the green phone) then select use as a ringtone.

  • shoshi

    wow!! i couldn”t find a way to put my songs as ringtones in an easy way ,so ringdroid made an exelent work!! thanks!!!!!

  • Richard

    I’ve written an app so you can now easily send a ringtone to another phone – it’s called “TonePush” and you can get it from the Android Google Play Market (follow the link or just search for tonepush). There is a video on youtube as well demonstrating how it works.

  • MadHat

    Hey guys,

    Great help! Slightly different for my android though:

    I have a LG-C800G phone and you have to install your files here:


    I created the audio/ringtones folders.

  • Jane

    My Android File Transfer wouldn’t let me add folders, so I managed to put my music files in the general first section. They’re on my phone (in the usb storage) but they won’t get in the ringtones menu. I don’t know what I’m doing.



  • Naresh

    Thanks. I was totally unaware of above. After reading above, my problems are solved. Thanks once again.

  • Miles Batty

    Hmm, the information was sorta helpful…. I found out how to put the downloaded mp3 I want into my notifications folder, and it’s established there as the notification sound. But when I drop it in the ringtones folde, it’s the only one there, and when I open the ringtones folder actually ON my phone, it’s not listed. And I cant find where all the other ringtones are stored, to add it to those.
    Any further advice?

  • keyonna

    Ok I understand what your saying but its still not working I dont know if im doing it wrong plzzz make a video so that I can see if im doing something wrong.

  • Gabby

    thank you sooo much!

  • Steve

    What a great tutorial. Bookmarked! You’re the best.

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  • Help!

    I need a certain ringtone for my twitter messages .Help!

  • edward schmitt

    Thanks for the great advice

  • Timothy Takemoto

    This is good but

    1) When I am accessing the SD card via USB (as I often am when I am at my desk) the phone can’t use the SD card or the ringtone so my phone is silent. It is a good thing I checked this. I may find a way of moving the mp3 to the internal memory using some sort of android file manager (My PC can’t see inside the internal memory of my non-rooted android machine to move the mp3 there)

    2) I can’t set, particularly increase, the volume. Is the only way to edit the mp3 and up the levels? I used Audacity and lame to increase the levels but even with clipping it was not loud enough (NEC Medias N-08D)

    3) I can’t set it to loop.

    Android has surprisingly basic ring-tone controls.

    For the time being I am using an app called “loud ringtones” but this has no loop nor volume control. And, I find that manually setting the ringtone in the way directed above has prevented loud ringtones from working.

    So I am using the preset ringtone “Noisey One” for the time being.

    On my basic non-smart phone it was possible to set volume.

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