Adding custom ringtones and sounds to your Android

Android is all about customization.

Don’t like your launcher? Get a new one. Don’t like your gray keyboard? Change it up! Got the same ringtone as that annoying co-worker at the other end of the room? Just don’t like the lame, old sounds that came with your sweet, new phone? No problem – we have options. Once you get the hang of it, the world is your ringtone.

Let awesome ring.

Finding a ringtone

Now, maybe you already a ringtone you’ve been using since 2009, or maybe you need to find a new custom alarm that you can’t tune out when you need to get out of bed and catch your flight. There’s a lot of places to find ringtones, but far and away the easiest is Zedge. Zedge is a customization app that looks to personalize two of the aspects of your phone: your sounds and wallpapers. Zedge even streamlines the process, letting you download and set your ringtone from the same screen!

Once you find a ringtone in the app you like (browsing or searching), here’s how to set it:

  1. Tap the blue download button on the right side of the screen.
  2. (First time only) Allow Zedge to access your device’s storage so it can download the ringtone to your device.
  3. Tap Ringtone to set your desired sound as your standard ringtone.
  4. (First time only) When Zedge pops up a message explaining that it needs permission to modify system settings in order to set your ringtone, select Settings.
  5. (First time only) In the Permissions menu for Zedge, swipe the toggle for Allow modify system settings to the right to enable the permission.
  6. (First time only) Tap the back button to return to the Zedge app. You should see a white Standard ringtone updated message appear near the bottom of the screen.

Making your own ringtones

Have a song you’re never gonna get sick of? Have a catchphrase from a friend you’d like to use when they text you? Here are a few ways to make it into a ringtone or notification tone.

If you want to use one of your friends or family members’ voices, you’ll need to record it, which you can easily do with a voice recorder app, which your phone most likely came with. If you’re lucky, that voice recorder will even let you set your new recording as a ringtone. If not, you can save it as an MP3 and add it to the Android file system, which we’ll cover down below.

If you’re looking to turn a song into a ringtone, you’re probably going to want to cut it down so it starts at a good, attention-grabbing section rather than at the beginning. You’ll also want to trim it down because some phones still have a 300 KB file size limits for ringtones.

While I still firmly believe that the best way to edit a song into a ringtone is a desktop editor like Audacity, you can edit a song into a ringtone using an audio editor app like Stagelight or JRT Studio’s Ringtone Maker. No matter the program you’re using, here are a few tips for getting a good ringtone out of a song:

  • Time your ringtone to start at one of the song’s natural transition points. The start of a verse or chorus usually sounds crisper and better than starting in the middle of a melody.
  • Try to start and end your ringtone as a dip in the song’s waveform (the squiggly line that shows how the song sounds). Starting with a full blast from a peak will make it seem abrupt and jarring, and that’s not something we want to feel every time the phone rings.
  • You can make any MP3 a ringtone, but most phones will go to voicemail after 15-20 seconds, so there’s no need to make your ringtone longer than 30 seconds.

Why can’t I use a song from Google Play Music as my ringtone?

Google Play Music and other subscription/streaming music apps encrypt the music it downloads from your web-based library, making it inaccessible by any other program on your phone. You can’t use these songs because the rest of the phone can’t see them. So if you do want to use a song from Google Play Music, you’ll need to download it on a computer using the Google Play Music Chrome app or the Google Play Music Manager — which means you have to own it, not just listen through your Play Music subscription — then clip it down and add it to the Ringtones folder like you would any other custom-made ringtone.

Adding custom ringtones through the Android file system

If you find your ringtones other places — or have one you just need to add to the phone — then you’ll need to get it into the proper folder in the Android file system, and that requires a file manager app. Now, some phones have file managers on them out of the box, but if not, you’ll need to download one from the Google Play Store, like Solid Explorer.

Once you’ve downloaded your new ringtone to the device, you’ll copy it from the Downloads folder into the Ringtones folder (or Notifications or Alarms, if that’s what you’re trying to set), then reboot your phone. Some phones will see the new ringtones in Settings right after copying it, but some devices will only recognize the new ringtones the next time it boots up.

Setting a custom ringtone in Android Settings

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. In the Device section, open Sound & notification. (Note: due to some manufacturer differences in software, this section may be in a location or have a different name.)
  3. Tap Ringtone or Phone ringtone to open the list of available ringtones.
  4. Tap your desired ringtone. It should play for you to confirm the tone is correct and test the volume unless your phone is set to Silent.
  5. Apply your new ringtone by tapping Apply or Done (varies by device).

So, what awesome ringtones are you setting on your phone? Share your most outrageous and hilarious ringtones in the comments below!

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