One of the most frustrating things for users of the Windows Phone platform upon its first release was the inability to set custom ringtones. Fortunately this is one of the areas in which the Mango update (officially known as Windows Phone 7.5) was able to improve the operating system, and as a result it is now possible to add ringtones for incoming calls.
There are several ways of doing this; indeed, the set of options for managing Windows Phone ringtones can be considered complete.
Along with the native ringtones, it is possible to use desktop software and Zune to sync a custom MP3 file to your phone, as well as save an MP3 file attachment as a ringtone..
Managing Native Ringtones
The basic tools for managing ringtones in Windows Phone can be found in the Settings > Ringtones + Sounds menu, where you will find controls not just for ringtones but also for audio settings.
To select a new ringtone – whether from the native library or those that you add later – all you need to do is ensure that the Ringer is set to On and then use the Ringtone drop down menu, browse through the list and select the ringtone you wish to set.
If you’re not sure which one you want, the play button on the left-hand side of the Ringtone menu will allow you to preview them. Once you have selected a ringtone, this becomes the default ring for all incoming calls.
Should you wish to select a specific ringtone for an individual, this can be done by opening the People Hub, selecting the contact, tapping Edit > +ringtone and choosing the intended ringtone from the drop-down menu.
Ringtones Via SMS
Another way of adding a ringtone to your Windows Phone is via SMS. You might have a friend or relative who is using a ringtone that you really like, and if they send this to you via text messaging it can be saved to your phone as a ringtone and selected.
To do this, open the text message that your friend has sent you with the ringtone selected, tap the Get media content now link in the message to download the file. When this has completed tap and hold the file, selecting Save as ringtone from the context menu, then tap OK. You can change the filename if you want to.
Note that it is not currently possible to send ringtones from one Windows Phone to another by SMS.
Creating Custom Ringtones On Your Computer
With your phone connected to your PC and synced to Zune it is possible to add a ringtone. All you need to do is find the right tune and trim it down to the right size using a free desktop MP3 editing app. Audacity is a good choice, but if you think this is overkill, you might try an online tool such as mp3cut.
A ringtone must be in MP3 or WMA format, be less than 1 MB in size and have no more than 40 seconds duration. It should also not be protected by DRM, otherwise it won’t work.
After creating your ringtone, you will need to ensure that it is saved to a folder that is part of your Zune library. You can check which folders on your PC are part of the library by viewing Settings > Software > Collection in the Zune client.
Once you have found the file, right-click and select Edit and type ringtone in the Genre field, before clicking OK. You can now sync your phone, and the file should be copied to the handset. You can then use the steps outlined above to set the new ringtone.
Note that it is also possible for Mac owners to create ringtones in iTunes and then sync these via Windows Phone Connector for Mac. In iTunes, simply find the file, click File > Get Info and under Genre type ringtone. Click OK, then open Windows Phone Connector for Mac and sync the ringtone to your phone. It should then be ready for you to use in the Ringtone list.
With these options, it is remarkable to think that when Windows Phone first launched, all that users were able to select from was the native selection of ringtones. While a large choice was on offer, there was always the nagging annoyance that the platform wasn’t quite “there” yet.
The options presented in the Mango update and the opportunities this has afforded to app developers means that there are now a number of ways in which ringtones can be added to your Windows Phone, whichever platform you use.