How To Setup Custom Ringtones on Windows Phone

Who doesn’t want to customize the ringtones on their smartphone? It’s always among the top things on my list when I pick up a new device – check the sounds that come with it, and get my favorites on it. In November of 2011, Microsoft released the Mango update for Windows Phone, which included this very functionality. If you purchased a device after that point, it should already have the Mango version on it. If you have an original Windows Phone, you’ll want to run it through the upgrade procedure in order to get this new feature.

There are a couple things you need to know before you can start loading your device with custom ringtones. First, the audio file must be 39 seconds long or less. So there’s no putting a 3 minute long clip as your ringtone. 39 seconds and then it will loop around and start over.

Next, the total size of this file must not be larger than 1MB in size. This is to ensure fast and responsive phone. If the file was too large, it could significantly slow the device as it loads when the phone rings and that’s not an experience that anyone is looking for.

Finally, the file needs to be in WMA or MP3 format, and can not have any DRM on it.

If you have a favorite song, but it’s too long, or you’re only looking for a certain part of the audio track, you can download a free tool like Audacity, and crop that song down to just the chunk you are looking for. Once you have everything the way you want it, you’re ready to copy it to the device. Here’s how you do that:

Add the audio file to your library of music and launch the Zune software. Find the track inside of the Zune client, right click the file and select edit. The only value that matters for sync’ing this to the device and making it a ringtone, is the Genre. So change the Genre to RINGTONE. Then right click the track and select Sync with device.

Zune Edit Track RingTone Windows Phone

Basically, any audio file with a Genre of RINGTONE will be allowed to sync with the device, and it won’t show up in a playlist or while browsing the music on the device. The only place you will see this file is when you’re browsing the ringtones. To check that it sync’ed successfully to the device, you’ll want to browse to Settings / Ringtones + Sounds, and tap on Ringtone. The resulting list should be broken into 2 sections – Custom and Windows Phone. Any custom ringtones you have sync’ed to the phone will be listed under the custom section.

At this time, there is no support for custom alert or notification sounds. We’re all hopeful that this will be added in the next release. :) Also, there are app in the marketplace that allow you to download custom ringtones, in case you don’t want to go through the process of creating your own. Check out my review of Free Ringtones if you’re interested in going down that path instead. Or if you want to record something on the device and use that as your ringtone, check out Yivosoft Recorder.

About Mike Temporale

Mike Temporale has written 614 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Mike Temporale grew up fascinated by computers since an early age. His first hands on with a computer came when he was 7 years old and a travelling lab of Commodore PET computers made a stop at his school. Hooked on the new world these devices offered, he took any chance possible to get in front of a computer. When Compaq launched the iPaq 3600, he was hooked again. This time on a whole new world of mobile computing. Today, Mike spends his day helping clients deploy and manage their mobile device around the world. From installing custom software, to locking and securing data, and everything in between. He is also the Editor in Chief at Mobile Jaw - a site focused on today's mobile world.

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  • Peter Temporale

    Whoa,… you lost me on step 1. How do i check to see what version of Windows 7 i have on my phone?

    • Mike Temporale

      Ah… good question. I guess I should explain that. Basically, if you’re not on the currently released version, when you connect to your PC and run the Zune software it will tell you that there is a new version available and walk you through the update. Most v1 phones have Mango on them at this point.

      However, here’s a list of the version numbers and you can check which one you have in your about screen. This list has the newest on top, and the oldest at the bottom. Also, you might not have the latest release – but you should have at least 7.10.7720.68 – this was the last major update released. Some new smaller ones are focused on specific devices.

      • Peter Temporale

        That took a lot. First i checked, and sure enough my OS was old. Then i had to install Zune on my home computer. Next i had to update the OS on the phone. And finally i was able install the new ringtone on the phone.

        That was a lot of work just for a custom ringtone. My old Samsung (running Windows Phone 6.5) was a lot easier – All i had to do was drag and drop the song from my computer to the phone. No fancy software. No updating the OS.

        • Mike Temporale

          In fairness, the update is a one time thing. You won’t have to do that again next time you want to sync a ringtone to your machine. Well, I shouldn’t say one time, as I’m sure you’ll be updating when the next release comes out. But certainly it’s not something you have to do on a regular basis.

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  • Princess

    You’re a genius. Thank you.