How to add your own ringtones and notification sounds on Android

I had an idea to use certain sounds on my Android, but they’re not included among the standard sounds. I knew I would probably be able to find the sounds on the Internet, and surely it must be possible to copy them to my phone so that they can be assigned as ringtones and notification sounds.

As it turns out, achieving this is really easy. The only obstacle I found was that no single page described the process – so I am setting out to do that here.There are two steps in this process:

  1. Find the sounds you want (and possibly edit them to make them shorter?)
  2. Copy them to the phone (and configure the phone to actually use the new sounds)

Step 1: Find some sounds

The essence is that you’ll need to find your desired sounds in MP3 format, or if you find them in another format you will have to convert them to MP3.

You probably have different tastes than I do, but let’s still take my sounds as an example. I wanted a sonar “ping” to use as notification sound, and I simply googled “sonar ping MP3” and found  two good sites: SoundJax and Zedge. Both provided MP3 downloads, so this was really easy. These sites might have the sounds you’re looking for too, but if not,  Google is your friend.

I also wanted a ship’s whistle as my phone’s ringtone, preferably the one from Star Trek. Again Google, again a result with a perfect hit (and some bonus goodies).

Convert to MP3

This time the sound files were in WAV format, so I had to convert them into MP3 before I could use them. (I found out later that I could have found it in MP3 version too, of course, but let’s ignore that for the sake of demonstration.) I use Linux so all I had to do was open my Software Center and download a small free tool for this (likely works on several Linux flavors). If you’re on Windows then CNET has this fine recommendation but there are (again!) several good Google results. Of course there are also several Android apps available.

Step 2: Copy sounds to Android

A few Google results taught me that custom ringtones and notification sounds are stored in separate directories on the phone, and I can add my own to these fairly easily. In fact, thanks to Android not being as obnoxious as iPhone is, all I had to do was connect the phone via USB to my computer. The computer recognizes it as a USB file system and lets me browse the directories. Sure enough, I found directories named “Ringtones” and “Notifications”! Depending on the Android version on your phone, these directories can be in a path like:

  • \system\media\audio\ringtones
  • /media/audio/ringtones
  • either on your SD-card or, if the phone doesn’t have an expansion slot, in the phone’s own file system.
  • If you have the “audio” directory but either “Ringtones” or “Notifications” directory is missing, you can simply create that directory yourself.

Copy your MP3 files to these directories – either one or both, depending on what activity you want to use the sounds for. Older phones might need a reboot before they can see these new files; newer phones will probably see the new sounds right away.

Configure the phone to use the new sounds

Select the new sounds in Settings > Sound. The sounds should play as you select them, so you’ll know this worked when you choose the sound.


That’s it! :-)

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