Smartphones proliferate the market today for good reason. The largest of which may be the fact that carriers are steering customers in that direction, but also because most of us want that functionality. To that end, many of us change the wallpapers, add apps and generally make the device a personal statement. The biggest, and most popular, change is usually the ringtone.
Our ringtones are a personal expression of our tastes. Be it Windows Phone, Blackberry, iPhone or Android, all of the major mobile platforms can be customized in this way. And all of the services would love to sell you a ringtone at roughly twice the price of buying a full version of the song.
There is a better, and cheaper, way of doing this. Ringtone Maker is a free app for Windows that allows you to take any song and create a ringtone for any mobile operating system.
As I stated previously, the app is free. Just head over to Fried Cookie to download and install it. Once that is out of the way then launch the app and we will take a look at what is there. The download is a mere 662 KB and there is nothing funny included — no toolbars or other apps.
Got it installed? Good. you are probably noticing that there really is not much here — not even options or a menu bar. The app is light, sparse and simple.
The main screen gives you one option — add a song. You can do so in either of two ways. You can either drag and drop it onto the Ringtone Maker app or click the app to browse for your song. Either way will have the same result, so go ahead and select your tune so we can move along.
In this part you will need to choose the section of the song you wish to use for your new ringtone. You can set up to 30 seconds and you can choose any part of the song that you wish. Simply slide the two orange dots to the places where you wish to start and stop your ringtone — you can play the song to help with your decision.
You can choose virtually any portion of the song, but no matter what part, you still have the thirty-second limitation. Once you have made your choices then we can move on to the next part.
This is a rather important part in this whole process. This is where you need to identify your mobile device — not a hard thing to do, but important because all of these devices use slightly different formats for ringtones.
Here you can choose from iPhone, Blackberry, Android, Windows and other. In my case, I will be clicking Android. Once clicked then I can choose “Next”.
Now it is time to choose where you would like to store your newly encoded ringtone. Again, this is important because you will need to remember the location so that you can transfer the file to your mobile device later.
By default, the app chooses “C:\Users\YourName\Desktop“. The desktop is fine, but I prefer not have it cluttering things up there, so I moved it into the My Document folder where I created a new “Ringtones” folder.
To do this, click the “browse” button and choose the folder where you would like the file stored — if it is a new folder then make sure that you create it first. Click Next and the app will begin creating your ringtone. It only takes a few seconds.
This really is not a step. There is nothing to do here but pat yourself on the back. A message is displayed that congratulates you on creating your new ringtone. If you would like to go straight to it then click the “show in folder” link.
You now need to get the newly created ringtone onto your handset. This should be easy, but I speak to you as an Android users who has never used iPhone or Blackberry and only played briefly with Windows Phone.
Plug in your device to the computer via USB and then browse the file structure. In Android there is a folder called “ringtones” that is easy to find. Copy or move your new file to there and you will be done.
The Good and the Bad
Where to begin? Let us start with what I liked. Simplicity. It is that is easy. The app could be used by a ten year old. There is nothing cluttering the interface and the steps are completely clear and easy to walk through. You can have a ringtone within minutes of firing up Ringtone Maker.
Now the bad. and it isn’t all THAT bad. The one option missing, that I sorely wished had been there, was the ability to fade songs in and out. This is present in the Audacity software, which a free audio recording program. When I created my ringtone, I ended up opening it in Audacity and using this feature to clean up the song so that start and finish were not so abrupt sounding.
Ringtone Maker is completely free, which is a huge savings over what the mobile carriers would like to charge you for a ringtone — frequently as much as twice the cost of purchasing the entire song. In this case, you need to provide your own music, but that should not be a problem for most people.
The app is also very simple to use with an easy to understand interface and it walks you right through the entire process so there is no learning curve involved. Perhaps a couple of more features could be used, but those may be added in the future.