How to Set New System Sounds on Android
By David Nield
Android gives you control over the sounds used for certain system events, such as notifications and incoming calls, enabling you to customize your phone or tablet to suit your home, office or boardroom. In order to use your own sounds, as well as those pre-loaded on Android, you'll need to first copy them over from a computer via USB or through a syncing service such as Dropbox. Place the sounds in the correct folder and they will appear as options in the Sound settings menu.
Transferring Sounds to an Android Device
Connect your Android device to a computer using the supplied USB cable. If you need any assistance doing this consult the documentation supplied with the hardware or download a digital copy from the manufacturer's website.
Move the mouse cursor to the top right corner of the screen -- or swipe in from the right on a touchscreen -- and choose "Search." Enter "File Explorer" as the search term and select the "File Explorer" shortcut when it appears.
Select "Computer" from the navigation pane then double-click or double-tap your Android device. Double-click or double-tap on the "Internal storage" folder.
Use File Explorer to copy the audio files you wish to use to the Android device's internal storage. Use the Alarms folder for alarms, the Notifications folder for system notifications and the Ringtones folder for ringtones.
Power down your Android device once you have transferred the necessary files over and unplug it from the computer. Reboot the device once disconnected to access the sounds that you've transferred.
Changing System Sounds
Tap the "All Apps" button and choose "Settings" from the list of apps. Select "Sound" from under the Device heading.
Tap "Phone Ringtone" to change the default ringtone for your device. Tap any sound to hear a preview, then "OK" to confirm your choice.
Tap "Default Notification Sound" to change the sound associated with system notifications. As before, tap any sound to hear a preview, then "OK" to confirm.
Select the "Dial-pad Touch Tones," "Touch Sounds" and "Screen Lock Sounds" options to enable or disable these sounds as required. You cannot change the sounds used for these features.
Depending on the configuration of your system, you may see an autoplay window open when you connect your Android device to your computer, giving you an alternative way of browsing its contents. A file transfer utility is available for Mac OS systems via the official Android website.
Tap on a contact in the People app, open the drop-down menu (by tapping the three vertical dots) and you can use the "Set Ringtone" option to choose a unique sound for this specific contact.
Audio files can be transferred to your Android device in any way you prefer, such as via a syncing tool like Dropbox. The most important part of the process is saving the audio files in the correct folders on your device. MP3, M4A, WAV and OGG formats are supported.
Individual alarm sounds can be set from within the Clock app built into Android.
The above steps have been tested with stock Android 4.2.2, the latest version of the operating system, as of July 2013. If you are using a different version of the mobile operating system the process may vary.
An information technology journalist since 2002, David Nield writes about the Web, technology, hardware and software. He is an experienced editor, proofreader and copywriter for online publications such as CNET, TechRadar and Gizmodo. Nield holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and lives in Manchester, England.