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How to change iPhone notification sounds and ringtones

Need a better way to separate your different alerts on iPhone. We’ve got you covered.

iphone 13 in-hand

Apple changed the face of mobile phones in 2007, with the release of the OG iPhone. Fifteen years later, however, it’s still not quite straightforward to change iPhone notification sounds and ringtones.

Back in 2007, everyone was using custom ringtones, but is that still even possible? Sure, you can change to one that Apple preloads, or even to an alert sound if you prefer. You can also set different alerts for texts, voicemail, mail, and a few other things.

If you are tired of the standard Apple alerts and ringtones, we’ll show you where you need to go to change the ringtone and alerts on your iPhone.

How to change iPhone notification sounds and ringtones on iOS

Most of the alert tones on iOS are handled by one menu, Sounds & Haptics. Here’s how to find it, and what to do once you get there.

  1. Open Settings
ios settings app
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Scroll to Sounds & Haptics and tap on it
screenshot of ios settings app
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on any list item with an alert tone next to it
screenshot of ios sounds and haptics menu
Image: KnowTechie

4. Scroll down through the list of ringtones (longer clips), or alert tones to find one you like

screenshot of ios ringtones menu
Image: KnowTechie
  1. If you miss the old sounds, tap on the Classic sub-menu
screenshot of ios ringtones classic option
Image: KnowTechie

READ MORE: How to edit iMessages in iOS 16

Now you know how to change the alert tones for almost everything on your iPhone, except one. To change the clock alarm sound, you need to head into the Clock app.

Change the clock alarm sounds on iPhone and iPad

The only sound on your iPhone you can’t edit from the menu we just showed you is that of the alarm. For that, you’ll have to open up the Clock app.

  1. Open the Clock app
screenshot of ios home screen with an arrow pointing at the clock icon
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on the alarm you want to edit or create a new alarm
screenshot of ios alarm menu
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on Sounds & Haptics (some iOS versions might say Sound instead)
screenshot of creating an alarm on ios 16
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Choose your preferred alarm tone
screenshot of ios 16 alarm tone options
Image: KnowTechie

You can also choose to Pick a song to play in Apple Music. That assumes you’ve got an Apple Music subscription, of course.

Now you know how to change all of the built-in ringtones, but what if you want a custom snippet of your favorite track?

Custom iPhone ringtones are a thing still (but you’ll have to pay)

iphone se 2022 three colors
Image: KnowTechie

Apple hasn’t forgotten about how popular custom ringtones were back in the day. You can still add them to your iPhone, so you can have your tune of choice play when someone calls you.

We had Mario Piu’s Communication as ours back in the pre-smartphone days, but it’s not in the Tone Store, so we had to pick another classic.

To find your perfect custom ringtone:

  1. Go to either Settings > Sounds & Haptics or the sound options in the Clock app, as before
  1. Tap on Tone Store at the top of the list
screenshot of ios tone store link
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Choose Tones and look for one you want to buy
screenshot of ios tone store
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap on the thumbnail to hear a preview, and tap the price to pay with your Apple account
screenshot of ios tone store sir mixalot purchase page
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Tap Done
screenshot of confirmation of purchase on tone store
Image: KnowTechie
  1. Go back to the Sounds & Haptics menu, and tap on Download All Purchased Tones to get your new custom ringtone to appear at the top of the ringtones list.

And yes, we said buy. Song clips are $1.29, audio clips are $0.99. The Featured section has most of the popular songs being used on TikTok right now, or you can delve into the classics, organized in decades.

You can make your own custom ringtones and transfer them to your iPhone via iTunes, or from Finder if you’re on macOS Catalina or newer, but it’s a lot of effort.

Is that effort worth $1.29? We’ll let you put your own price on your time.

Use custom sounds on iPhone to keep your notifications separate

Using custom sounds for ringtones and alerts is a great way to make sure you are keeping up with the notifications you care about.

This way, if you are busy with work, you can ignore text alert sounds while paying attention to Slack alerts. Setting up different ringtones will also help separate your iPhone from every other person’s iPhone in a crowded room.

Regardless of your reasoning, you should now be equipped with the tools and knowledge to change your iPhone notification sounds and ringtones.

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