Create Audacious Ringtones for your Windows Phone

Ever since the Windows Phone operating system was upgraded 7.5 (also known as the Mango upgrade), you can use custom ringtones on a Window Phones, but for Windows Phone 7.5 devices, there are some very specific requirements that must be followed in order to use custom ringtones, namely the ringtone audio files must:

  • be in MP3 or WMA format
  • be less than 40 seconds long (make it no longer than 39 seconds to be on the safe side)
  • be no larger than 1 mbs
  • not be protected with digital rights management (DRM)
  • be assigned to the RINGTONE genre in its metadata

With these requirements in mind, you can create ringtones from your favorite tunes or you can download already formatted ringtones and sync them to your phone.

I downloaded a few ringtones to use on my phone, but before I could use them on my phone, I had to edit them to make them conform to these requirements.  First I had to shorten them, and then I had to change the genre to RINGTONE.

Shorten Tunes to less than 40 seconds with Audacity

I use Audacity, a free audio editor and recorder which can be downloaded here, to create ringtones from songs and to modify downloaded ringtones.  Audacity has lots of features that you won’t need to use and it isn’t the easiest software I’ve ever used so I’ll step you through the process of creating a custom ringtone.

First install the Audacity software to your computer; then open it up and select File > Open > navigate to the folder where you’ve placed the tunes you plan to use as ringtones.  Select a tune to import it into the Audacity software for editing.


Toolbars:  Just under the menu bar you’ll see the Toolbar with several tools you can use.  On the left hand side of the Toolbar, you’ll see 6 control keys that can be used to playback or record tunes. You can select the green forward triangle to listen to the tune, select the blue double bars to pause the tune, select the yellow square to stop the tune, and so forth.  To the right of the playback/record keys you find editing tools to cut, copy, paste, pieces of the tune, tools to adjust playback levels (if you want to make the tune louder you’ll want to explore these tools).

Timeline:  Just below the toolbars, you’ll see the timeline which is a horizontal ruler above the tracks that measure the time from 0 (the start of the track) to the end of the track.  The tune in the above screenshot is approximately 2:50 minutes long.

Tracks:  Underneath the timeline you can see the audio tracks for the tune.  Since this tune is in stereo, there are two tracks which represent the left channel (the upper waveform) and the right channel (the lower waveform).

Listen to the tune to determine the portion you want to use as your custom ringtone.  You can select the portion of the tune to be your custom ringtone by clicking the Selection Tool (which I’ve circled in red in the screenshot below).

Then move your cursor into the Tracks area and highlight no more than 40 seconds’ worth of the tune. You can see in the screenshot below that I’ve selected the portion of the tune that starts around 45 seconds and runs until 1:15.


Select File > Export Selection > give the Ringtone a name and save it as an MP3 or WMA formatted file.

Audacity Import

When you select the Save button, an Edit Metadata box will open up and you can change the Genre to RINGTONE (you can see this particular tune’s Genre was originally shown as “Soundtrack” in the screenshot below).  After you edit the Genre field to change it to RINGTONE, select Add > Ok and your new ringtone will be created.

Audacity Metadata

Sync your custom ringtone to your phone

Now all you need to do is sync your ringtone to your phone via the Zune desktop software.

First, connect your phone to your computer via the USB cable or wirelessly (if you’ve set it up to sync wirelessly).

Check to make sure you’ve added your Ringtone folder to the list of Monitored folders:  Open up the Zune software, select SETTINGS (found in the upper right hand corner of the screen) >  SOFTWARE > COLLECTION > Monitored folders.  If your Ringtone folder is not already included in your list of monitored folders, add it by selecting the ADD FOLDER button.

Zune Monitored Folders

Select the back arrow in the upper left hand corner of the screen.  Select Collection > Music > Genres (found in the right panel) > RINGTONE (found in the left panel).

Zune Genre Ringtone

Find your custom ringtone in the right hand panel, right click on it.  From the popup menu, select “Sync with….” to sync to your connected phone or you can drag the ringtone to the phone icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen.

After you disconnect your phone from your computer, you can find and assign your ringtone by tapping Settings > ringtones+sounds > tap the Ringtone box and review the ringtones under the “Custom” heading.

ringtone2 ringtone1

If you want to assign your custom ringtone to a contact, open up the People hub, select the person that you want to assign the ringtone to and tap the edit icon on the bottom of the screen.  Then tap the +ringtone option and select your ringtone from the list.