How To Make Free Ringtones For Your iPhone

As awesome as the iPhone is, it has a lot of shortcomings. Apple fans would like to claim that Apple doesn’t really play the “features” game and would rather implement a few features well than having a hundred ill conceived features like it’s rivals.

I agree with Apple’s philosophy to a certain extent but when a phone, in the 21st century, doesn’t let a user have their own songs as ring tones, it is taking that philosophy a little too far. That too, when Apple itself sells ringtones through it’s iTunes music store. Thankfully there are ways to make ringtones for your iPhone for free and you don’t have to pay Apple a cent for them. The only limitation seems to be that ringtones for the iPhone have to be approximately 40 seconds in size. I haven’t been able to figure out the exact time restriction so we’ll keep our custom ringtones to about 30 seconds in length.

We’ll be using iTunes for making ringtones so you’ll have to launch iTunes and select the song that you want to use for making your ringtone.

Select and right click the song in iTunes and select Get Info from the context menu. Hit the Options tab.

Now, enter the start and stop time for your ringtone. For example, in the screenshot above, from the song that I selected, iTunes will use the audio from the 43rd second till the 1.10 min mark to make my ringtone. Press the Ok button.

Now, right click the song again and select the Create AAC version option.

The next step is a little tricky and a lot of people do it wrong. It isn’t that difficult, though.

When iTunes has finished creating the AAC version of your song, you’ll see two copies of the same song in your iTunes library. The only difference will be that one will be the full song and the other will be the clipped version that starts and ends at the times that you gave earlier. You can identify the length of the songs with the Time column in your library.

What you need to do is select the AAC version (shorter) of the song and drag it out of your library to the desktop. When iTunes has copied the song to your desktop, delete the file from the iTunes library. This deletion step is really important otherwise iTunes will fail to recognize your new ringtone file.

The file that you’ve copied to your desktop will have an extension of .M4A. Rename the extension to .M4R.

That’s all. All you have to do, now, is to drag this file back to iTunes. iTunes will automatically place the file in the Tones section of your library. Sync your iPhone as usual using iTunes and you should be able to use your own custom ringtone. All without paying Apple a single dime of your hard earned money.

How To Convert Any Video File to Play On Your iPhone

Apple’s iPhone and iPad are considered to be really picky when it comes to the type of video formats they play. And rightfully so. The iOS family of devices, that include the iPhone, iPad and the iPod touch, support only a few video formats and refuse to play anything else. In fact, iTunes itself refuses to sync any file that it knows will not play on the iOS device.

If you download a lot of movies from the Internet, this might be a problem for you since most of those movies are stored in the Divx format to save space and bandwidth and Apple’s devices don’t support playing Divx or most other popular formats.

The only way to play such a file on an iOS device is by converting it to a supported format. We’ve written about how to convert video files earlier using the open source ffmpeg and WinFF. If you’re a geek and are comfortable using the command line, by all means use those methods. You’ll have the maximum flexibility and ffmpeg is an excellent and reliable piece of software.

If you’re not a geek and would rather have a nice GUI to handle the conversion, fret not ! I’m going to tell you about exactly the thing you need.

Handbrake

The developers of Handbrake describe it as a multi platform, multithreaded video transcoder available for Mac OS X, Linux or Windows. Which, in simple English, means that it is a video conversion utility available for the three major platforms that exist. I’m using Handbrake on my Mac OS X machine but the instructions for Windows or Linux should be similar and you will be able to follow along.

The first step is to, if it wasn’t obvious, download and install Handbrake.

When you launch Handbrake, you will be presented with a file open dialogue box. Select the file that you want to transcode (convert).

Handbrake will automatically fill in the Destination path for you but if you want to store the converted file in a different path, select that using the Browse button.

Now, there are two kinds of conversion that you can do. The first is to create a file, specifically encoded for the device you want to run it on, for example and iPod or an iPad and the second method is to create a generic file that’ll run on almost any iOS device. I’ll take you through both methods.

Create a device specific file

This is the easiest method, just select the Apple device that you want to encode the video file for from the Apple drop down in the sidebar and Handbrake will preselect the best settings for that device. Hit Start and you’re done!

Create a generic file

To convert the file to a format that can run on any iOS device, make sure the Format selected is “MP4” and video codec “H.264”.

From the Audio tab, make sure the Track and Codec are MP3 or AAC.

This really should take care of everything. Press the Start button and Handbrake will get to work immediately. Video conversion is a CPU intensive task and depending on the capabilities of your machine and the size of the file you’re converting, anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours or more. Get a cup of coffee, listen to some music and relax a little.

 

4 More Free Web Based File Sharing Services

Photo Credit: Velo Steve at flickr

Web based file sharing services are dime-a-dozen, and even more keep popping up almost every other day. All these services seem to rely on the facts that storage is cheap, bandwidth is plenty and consumers seem to have a huge appetite for generating data. And if there is data, there has to be a way to store it. Right ?

While there are possibly hundreds of services that let you store and access your data over the web, only a few of those services offer the features and an easy interface that makes consumers come back to them. Gourav covered some excellent services few weeks back and this is a list of some of my favorite free web based file sharing services.

Fyels

Fyels is the ultra minimalistic file sharing service that is also easy to use. Fyels lets you share a file by simply dragging it to the large box on the homepage. As soon as Fyles is done processing the upload, you’ll be given a short URL to access your file that you can then share with your friends.

Streamfile

Streamfile is another file sharing service that I am a big fan of. The best part about Streamfile is the fact that the recipients do not need to wait for the complete upload of a file to finish before starting to download. Instead, Streamfile lets users download a file as soon as you start the upload. This is a huge time saver.

Dropbox

Are you surprised to see Dropbox on this list ? I don’t blame you, since Dropbox itself doesn’t really market itself as a file sharing service. Instead, they call themselves a file syncing service and they’re right. But, the Dropbox’s website also lets a user share files with anyone over the Internet and the enterprise grade reliability and speed that one gets is a nice little bonus too.

Senduit

Senduit is similar to File Dropper and Fyles with a pretty significant added feature – The ability to set an expiry time for the files. This means that any files that you upload are automatically deleted from Senduit’s servers after a certain period of time that you decide while uploading. This feature alone makes the service worth a shot.

Which is your favorite free web based file sharing service ? Please let us know in the comments.

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