Convert an Audio File into an Android or iPhone Ringtone from Terminal
Ever wanted to create an iPhone or Android ringtone from an existing audio file, but wanted to complete the process entirely from the command line? You’re in luck, because OS X has a little audio conversion tool that can turn any existing audio track into an Android or iPhone compatible ringtone in seconds. We’ll break the command down for both Android and iPhone users, though whichever method you choose you’ll still need to sync the ringtone over to the device yourself.
This is obviously geared towards a bit more advanced users who like to mess around in the Terminal, and it’s certainly not the most user friendly way to craft ringtones like how it can be done with iTunes or Garageband. No, this is for users who want to avoid the GUI for whatever reason, and instead turn over to the terminal, perhaps to automate the task or maybe just to gain some geekier cred.
Note that iPhone ringtones created this way will still need to fall within the 45 second maximum length to actually be used on the device. Android smartphones don’t have that same time limit, but you can always trim the audio anyway
Converting an Audio File to an iPhone Ringtone from the Command Line
The iPhone uses the m4r ringtone format, which is a variant of the m4a audio file type. We’ll be using the afconvert command to take an existing audio file and convert it directly to m4r. The general syntax to use is as follows:
afconvert [original-audio-file] [ringtone-file] -f m4af
For example, we’ll take a short song called “Waiting” from the iTunes library and convert it into an m4r that will sit on the desktop:
afconvert ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/Shook/Waiting.mp3 ~/Desktop/Waiting.m4r -f m4af
Going a step further, we’ll convert an audio track (mp3 in this case) into a m4r, then import it directly into iTunes by opening it through there:
afconvert ~/Music/Sample.mp3 ~/Sample.m4r -f m4af && open ~/Sample.m4r
Yes you can drop m4r files directly into the Tones folder instead, but iTunes must be launched either way to import it.
You will still need to sync the ringtone over to the iPhone yourself unless you have automatic syncing turned on, once it’s on the iPhone, set it as your normal ringtone through Settings > Sounds, or assign it to a contact if you’d rather it be unique to a person.
Converting an Audio File into an Android Ringtone via Terminal
Android phones accept mp3 and m4a as ringtone files, so all we need to do is adjust the afconvert command to specify a different file format output. The syntax is otherwise the same as the conversion outlined above:
afconvert /path/to/original /destination/ringtone.m4a -f m4af
For example, this command will take an audio file on the desktop named “1up.aiff” and turn it into an Android ringtone:
afconvert ~/Desktop/1up.aiff ~/Desktop/1up.m4a -f m4af
Now you just need to get the ringtone onto the Android phone, either through Google Play, with Android File Transfer, or by mounting it as a drive and copying it to the phone file through the filesystem. If you’re copying through the file system, be sure to drop it into the “Ringtones” folder on the Android phone – if that folder doesn’t exist for some reason or another just make it yourself. Once it’s on the Android phone in the proper location, you can find it in Settings > Sound > Phone ringtone.