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Vail Tech Bytes: Ringtones help you recognize your phone

Jessie Williams
Tech Bytes
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –I was in the Bookworm in Colorado’s Vail Valley enjoying a cup of their fantastic hot chocolate the other day when another patron’s phone began to ring. It was one of the default iPhone ringtones, and what caught me by surprise was how many people around me suddenly stopped what they were doing, and proceeded to dig around in their pockets or bags to check if it was their phone ringing.

Now, while I have nothing against cell phone users who choose to keep the default tone because they actually like the sound, I want to make sure that it’s not because they don’t know how to change it. So in this week’s tech bytes, I’m going to go over just a few of the many ways there are to make a free, custom ringtone for your mobile.

Just doing a quick Google search for “create free ringtone” brings up hundreds of sites, all enticing mobile users with free services to create both ringtones and wallpapers for their phones.

One site that comes up is mobile17.com, which is also a site that a friend of mine recently recommended. So, I checked it out, and it’s a very simple interface for creating a custom ringtone from any mp3 music file that you currently own.

You simply sign up on the Web site by giving them a few basic pieces of information (i.e., name, cell phone number, e-mail, birthdate and gender) and then tell them your mobile carrier and model of phone. One slightly tricky part of the sign up was that they tried to get me to sign up for an “offer” from their “partner” but after reading through it I noticed a link at the bottom to “skip this offer,” and it let me proceed. Just be warned that many of these sites are able to remain free because of the money they generate from the advertising on the site, so be sure to read the fine print carefully and don’t sign up for anything you’re unsure about.

Once I signed up on this site, it was really easy to make a ringtone. I simply had to upload the file, choose at what point in the song I wanted the ringtone to start (i.e., from the beginning, 30 seconds in, etc.), and how long I wanted the ringtone to run (maximum ringtone lengths vary from phone to phone).

My ringtone was then put into a queue of other users using the free service. It did take a while before I received the ringtone (by e-mail), but for a free service it was acceptable. If you want to get the ringtones immediately, you can sign up for a pro account, earn points by spreading the word about them through Facebook and Twitter.

Another site that operates in a similar fashion is PhoneZoo.com, and I have another friend who uses this service the create tones.

If you’re like me and prefer to have a little more control over the finished product, consider using one of the many free audio editing software suites available. On my Mac I use GarageBand to cut and splice mp3s together to make custom ringtones, and I’m then able to export them either as mp3 files that can then be sent to most newer mobile phones via Bluetooth or a transfer cable, or I can choose “send ringtone to iTunes” for direct transfer to an iPhone. If you’re on a Mac that doesn’t have GarageBand, or you have a PC running Windows or Linux, I recommend Audacity, (http://audacity.sourceforge.net), which is a free tool that you can use to edit your new ringtones and save as mp3s for transfer to your phone.

And don’t forget that most phones will allow you to set different ringtones for individual callers in your contacts – so go ahead and make a few different ones. You’ll be able to tell immediately if it’s your best friend or your in-laws calling.

Jessie Williams is the owner of Second October Media, http://www.secondoctober.com, a Web development and graphic design firm in Edwards. Have a tech question you’d like answered? E-mail her at info@secondoctober.com.


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