How to Make an Alarm Tone for the iPhone

by Avery Martin
Image courtesy of Apple.

Ringtones and alarms on the iPhone use the M4R audio format. If you already have an alarm tone in an M4A format, you can change the extension to make it compatible with your iPhone alarm. Apple ringtones and alarms are identified by the operating system because of the extension used. Changing the extension from M4A to M4R doesn't change the quality of the ringtone or alarm. Additionally, when creating an alarm, you must make sure the audio file doesn't exceed 30 seconds since only the first 30 seconds are available to your phone or alarm application. For longer alarms, select a song from your music library directly within the alarm settings on your iPhone.

Create an Alarm With iPhone Voice Memos

Step 1

Tap the "Voice Memos" app on your iPhone to make an alarm tone by recording audio.

Step 2

Tap the "Record" button and begin recording the sound you want for your ringtone. Make sure it doesn't exceed 30 seconds in length. Tap the "Stop" button when finished recording.

Step 3

Tap the "Speaker" icon and press the right arrow next to your recording. If you need to trim the recording, tap the "Trim Memo" option and use the sliders to select the beginning and end of the audio you want to cut.

Step 4

Tap "Share" and select "Email" to send the audio file to your computer by entering an email address and pressing "Send."

Select the recording from your email message, right-click the attachment and select "Save As" to save it to your computer. Change the extension to ".m4r" and click the "Save" button.

Create an Alarm With GarageBand for Mac

Step 1

Click the "Go" menu, select "Applications" and choose "GarageBand" from the list of applications.

Step 2

Select the "iPhone Ringtone" option and select the "Loops" option to use pre-recorded sounds, or select "Voice" to record audio. Click "Create."

Step 3

Select a sound from the categories in the sidebar on the right and double-click a sound to preview it. When you find a sound you like, drag it to the location in the audio timeline that you want it to appear. Continue to edit your alarm tone by adding removing or manipulating your audio file. You can drag audio bytes and change the characters by double-clicking an audio excerpt in the timeline and choosing from the available editing options. Record live audio by clicking the "Record" button while singing or playing an instrument.

Click "Share" and select "Send Ringtone to iTunes" when finished creating your ringtone.

Sync and Select an Alarm Tone on Your iPhone

Step 1

Launch iTunes by clicking the Windows "Start" menu and typing "iTunes" into the Search field. On a Mac, click the "iTunes" icon in the Dock.

Step 2

Drag the audio file you saved to your computer into the main iTunes window.

Step 3

Click the "Tones" tab and select the "Sync Tones" check box. Click "Apply" or "Sync" to send the alarm tone to your iPhone.

Step 4

Tap the "Clock" app on your iPhone and create an alarm by clicking the "+" button and setting the time options. Tap "Save" to save your alarm.

Step 5

Tap the "Sound" option in the Add Alarm settings and select your alarm tone from the list of ringtones. If you created an alarm, changed the file name to the "M4R" format and sync with iTunes. The alarm will appear in your list of ringtones. Alternatively, select "Pick a Song" from the Songs section and select a song from the songs available on your iPhone.

Tap "Back" after previewing your alarm and tap "Save" to set the alarm.


  • Information in this article applies to Mac OS X Mountain Lion, Windows 7 and iPhone running iOS 6. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.


Photo Credits

  • Image courtesy of Apple.

About the Author

Avery Martin holds a Bachelor of Music in opera performance and a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian studies. As a professional writer, she has written for, Samsung and IBM. Martin contributed English translations for a collection of Japanese poems by Misuzu Kaneko. She has worked as an educator in Japan, and she runs a private voice studio out of her home. She writes about education, music and travel.

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