How to get custom ringtones & text alerts on your iPhone

This page has a musical soundtrack – click the Play button to hear it as you scroll.

HaszariRedline Train Rubadub (chords & strings)

I like default settings .. but I also like to customise things. Especially my sound world. It’s quite possible to get a custom ringtone on an iPhone, though it’s a bit of a hidden feature. I’m not sure about other phones (e.g. Android) – let me know how that works in the comments.

If you just want to download my new dub-reggae ringtone, scroll down!


HaszariRedline Train Rubadub (drums & bass)

I make my ringtones on my laptop – because that’s where I make music and wrangle all my samples. You can also do this on an iPhone (details below).

  • Make or record some audio less than 30 seconds in duration.
  • Encode it as aac (.m4a) format.
  • Rename the file .m4r (ringtone) format.

Then, connect your phone to your laptop via USB. In recent versions of macOS you should see your phone in the finder sidebar:

You’ll notice there’s no mention of ringtones anywhere here.

BUT you can drag your .m4r files over and drop them and they will show up on your phone!


How to make a ringtone – right on your iPhone

Without a laptop, it’s a similar process, using GarageBand on iOS.

  • Open GarageBand on your phone, start a new project.
  • Make or record less than 30 seconds of sound/music.
    • This is the tricky bit, one reason why I prefer desktop.
  • Share song and select Ringtone.

Why make custom ringtones?

I like making music but like a lot of creatively minded people I can get bogged down polishing things to perfection. Or feel paralysed by the many half-finished projects or the long list of ideas.

Producing and rendering ringtones is a way of focusing on a low-stakes outcome. Also it’s a fun way to road-test ideas – if you still like it after using it as a ringtone, maybe it’s a keeper!

Free download

HaszariRedline Train Rubadub

My new ringtone is a more laid-back, casual “rubadub” style version of Redline Train – an unreleased dub reggae tune. It’s the soundtrack for this page!

You might have already heard the song – it’s part of Padded Landscape, my continuously-evolving loop-based audiovisual installation & website.

When someone rings me, this gentle reggae ditty will echo through my surroundings as I scrabble to answer my phone. When you send me a text, a little dubby chord stab alerts me about this!

Download the files and drag them on to your phone – this archive includes .m4r files for iPhones and .mp3 files which should work on other devices (e.g. Android, Samsung). Let me know if your phone uses some other format.