How to convert iOS ringtones to use on Windows Phone 8/10

Migrating to Windows Phone? Here's how to convert and transfer your favorite iOS ringtones to your new phone.

Use iOS ringtones on Windows Phone 8
Credit: Stephen Glasskeys

Data diaspora

Migrating data from one mobile platform to another is never fun. Microsoft offers a suite of tools and information on how to migrate data to Windows Phone 8 from a various other mobile OS'es. Lacking though, is sage advice on how to move legally purchased ringtones from an iPhone to Windows Phone 8.

iTunes and ringtones

Many iPhone users create their own ringtones from one of their favorite iTunes music tracks. Most users select a 30 second piece of music in a track, convert it to a new AAC file, then change the new file extension to m4r. Macworld UK has an excellent tutorial on how to do this, and long ago, back in the ancient days of iOS 4, I wrote a tutorial on how to create iOS ringtones from MP3 files.

So how do you move a ringtone created for iOS using these techniques to a Windows Phone? As it turns out, there are two simple ways to do this.

Method 1: Change extension and convert online

In today's web enabled and cloud based world, its easy to do many things online that used to require running specialized tools on a local machine. A perfect example of this phenomenon are the legions of audio conversion pages found everywhere online. My personal favorite, CloudConvert, lets you quickly and easily convert most audio formats. That is, most formats except m4r files.

To illustrate, this is the message CloudConvert displays when you try to convert an iOS ringtone file:

Unable to convert m4r file.

That obviously isn't the message we were hoping to see. But you can trick CloudConvert into converting ringtone files by changing the extension. To do this, open the location of the ringtone file in iTunes using Show in Finder.

Show in Finder.

Next, copy the file to another folder and change its extension from m4r to m4a. Now the file can be uploaded to CloudConvert and converted to an mp3. The converted mp3 file can now be used as a Windows Phone ringtone.

Conversion finished.

Method 2: Conversion from the command line

For those of us that are comfortable using command line tools, this second method is actually the easiest. I use the cross-platform tool known as ffmpeg to convert iTunes ringtones to mp3 files:

ffmpeg -i command in Terminal

This is the command I used to convert the ringtone file mars.m4f located in a folder I named convert under my home directory:

$ ffmpeg -i ~/convert/mars.m4r ~/convert/mars.mp3


Wrapping up

The only remaining step is to move the mp3 ringtone file to the Ringtones folder on your Windows Phone. I find it easiest using Windows Explorer to copy mp3 files to my phone:

Copy mp3 file to ringtones folder.

Finally, after the ringtone has been copied to your phone, open the Settings app, select ringtones + sound and select the new ringtone:

Select ringtone in Windows Phone Settings.

Enjoy using your converted ringtone!

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