iPhone Life magazine

How to troubleshoot ringtone problems

Copy To iTunesIf your ringtone shows up in iTunes but doesn't show up on your iPhone after syncing, it could be one of the following:


Make sure Copy files to iTunes Media folder is checked.


  • Your ringtone file wasn't permanently copied to your iTunes library. Make sure "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" is checked in iTunes. On the Mac, it's located in iTunes > Preferences >Advanced. On the PC, it's located in Edit > Preferences > Advanced. To be safe, make sure you have a backup copy of your ringtone files stored somewhere else, like your Documents directory, before you import or open them in iTunes.
  • You do not have the Sync Ringtones box checked. To select it, open iTunes on your Mac or PC, select your iPhone under Devices, and click on the Ringtones tab at the top of the screen. Then check the Ringtones box.
  • You have Selected Ringtones button selected under Sync Ringtones, but have not selected the desired ringtones to sync. Simply select them or click on the All Ringtones button.
  • You have the "Manually manage music and videos" box checked. (This setting applies to ringtones as well.) This is located at the bottom of the device Summary page in iTunes. When this feature is checked, you have to drag the ringtone files from your Finder to the iPhone icon listed under Devices.
  • Make sure to keep the sound file under 30 seconds or it may not work. In addition, you should not use an .m4r AND an .m4a file with the same filename—iTunes may have trouble differentiating the two files.

  • If your custom ringtones transfer successfully, they will show up in the Settings >Sounds >Ringtones screen. If you assign a ringtone to a contact, but the default ringtone still plays when you receive a call from him/her, you may have that contact's phone number stored differently than your cellular carrier transmits it. For example, you might store a local call without the area code, but the carrier may transmit the full phone number with the area code. The easiest way to fix this is to delete the contact's phone number (but don't delete the contact) and then have that person call you. Next, look in Recent Calls and assign that number to the existing contact. This will ensure that the number is stored exactly the way the carrier sends it.

  • Finally, make sure your Mute switch is not set to ON. It's the toggle switch above the volume keys.