It's easy to create ringtones for free with iTunes using the steps outlined below, and then you can upload them to your cell phone with a USB data cable or a Bluetooth connection.
These instructions are for iTunes version 10.2.1 which you can download for free from http://www.apple.com/itunes. With iTunes installed and your music either imported from a CD or downloaded from the iTunes store, here are the steps to create a free ring tone:
1. Configure the iTunes mp3 convertor
Open iTunes and click the Preferences menu (Tools -- Preferences on Windows).
Click Import Settings.
Change the Import Using option to MP3 Encoder.
Click OK to save your changes, and OK one more time to exit the Settings screen.
2. Make an MP3 version of your song
Right-click on the song in iTunes and select Create MP3 Version from the pop-up menu.
This will create a copy of the song and save it in MP3 format.
NOTE: Do not select "Create Ringtone", as this option will charge your account, and also only works with songs you have purchased through the iTunes store.
3. Change the song length to 30 seconds
You should now see a second copy of the song. Right-click on the second copy (the new one) and click Get Info from the popup menu.
Click the Options tab and set the Stop Time to 0:30 for 30 seconds.
Upload the ringtone to your phone using a usb data cable or Bluetooth
Question: I saw your article on how to copy music to an ipod, but is it possible to point the ipod to an external portable drive, so that it finds music files there instead of from the main hard drive?
Answer: Since iPods get their music by syncing with iTunes, you'll need to either 1) tell iTunes to store music files on your portable external hard drive instead of your regular drive, or 2) import music files from your external drive into iTunes.
Option 1: Tell iTunes where to store music files
Open iTunes and select Edit -- Preferences. Then click the Advanced tab where you'll find the iTunes Music folder location.
Click the Change button and choose a folder on your external hard drive (you might want to create one first if you want files to be stored in a particular folder on the new drive).
If you want all of your music files to be moved over from your main drive to the external drive, then make sure the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option is checked.
Option 2: Import music into iTunes from an external hard drive
If you already have music on a portable hard drive, and just want to get them into iTunes so you can sync up and get those songs on your ipod, then you can just drag and drop those music files onto iTunes.
You can also use the File -- Add Folder to Library menu in iTunes, choose a music folder on your portable drive, and iTunes will add those to your library.
If you uncheck the Copy files to iTunes Music folder when adding to library option, which is on this same tab shown above, then iTunes will leave the files on your external drive.
With the iPhone's built-in iPod music player, you'd think it would be easy to select a music file and set it as your default ringtone, or as a custom ringtone for one of your contacts. But as you've probably already discovered, it doesn't work that way.
Sure, you can right-click on a music file that you've purchased from iTunes and select "Create Ringtone", but you'll be charged another 99 cents for the conversion. Not cool, imho.
Fortunately, iTunes has everything you need to create your own custom ringtones from music you already own, and without paying any money. Here's how to do it using iTunes 8.0.2 (will also work with earlier versions, but the screens and menu names might be slightly different):
1. Configure iTunes to convert music to AAC format
AAC is the standard ringtone music file format, and you tell iTunes to use this format by configuring it's Import Settings (the same settings you use when importing music from a CD).
Open iTunes and select the "Edit" >> "Preferences" menu.
Click the "Import Settings" button and choose "AAC Format".
2. Trim the song length
Music files that are converted to ringtone format will not be recognized by your iPhone if they're longer than 35 seconds.
Select the song in iTunes that you want to convert to a ringtone, and select "Get Info" from the pop-up menu. Select the "Options" tab and change the Stop Time to 0:35.
This step must be completed before attempting the next step, or the file length will be too long.
3. Convert the song to AAC format
Right-click on the song in iTunes, and select "Create AAC Version".
iTunes will create a copy of this song in AAC format, but it will be trimmed to 35 seconds.