Apple made headlines last week by rolling out a line of iTunes-exclusive ringtones featuring music by The Beatles—a move that excited some Beatles fans and enraged others. As with Apple's other ringtone offerings, the tones are sold separately from the full version of the song for $1.29 apiece and only include a small clip of the song chosen by Apple. If you already own the song or want the full version for your own music-listening pleasure, you'll have to pay twice.
Except in reality, you don't. This is a topic that comes up regularly between Ars staff and our friends and family. Apple doesn't hide the fact you can make your own ringtones for free, but it's certainly not widely advertised. Plenty of iPhone users are still unaware how easy it is to create your own ringtones out of music you already own (or even music you create). Whether you like The Beatles, Rush, Beyoncé, or Vivaldi, you can make ringtones to your heart's content without having to plunk down a dollar every time you want to switch things up.
The simplest way to do so is through GarageBand, so we'll go over the process for that first. But you don't have to use GarageBand if you don't own it and prefer something else. We'll detail another, GarageBand-free method for creating iPhone ringtones as well.