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.
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.