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How to Set a Custom Ringtone, Notification, or Alarm on Your Android Phone

One of the factors that draws people to Android over iOS is the increased level of customization offered by Google’s OS. It’s easy to make tweaks that are not possible on iOS. Users can set all types of live wallpapers, change launchers, and even do things like theme the system keyboard. You can customize an Android’s lock screen [1] and adjust the security settings to your taste [2].

One thing that isn’t immediately obvious, though, is how to set custom notifications, alarms, and ringtones. Some of the stock Android sounds are cool, but setting your own notification sounds really adds that personal touch to your device–and it seems like the sort of thing you should be able to do, doesn’t it? These days we spend so much time on our devices, we might as well customize them.

Today we’ll be exploring what’s probably the most straightforward way of setting your desired notification, alarm, or ringtone. No special bells or whistles are required to do this, so you can go ahead and put away your rootkit and sonic screwdriver.

How It Works

Before we begin, please note that I’m using a Google Nexus 5 running Android 6.0.1 and a Windows PC as the basis for this article. This method should apply to most, if not all, Android devices with little variation. It should also be easily repeatable on other computer operating systems.

First, you will need to connect your device to your computer via USB and make sure that it is in USB file transfer mode. Next, if they don’t already exist, you will need to create folders called “Alarms,” “Notifications,” and “Ringtones” in the root directory of your phone.

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Now you’ll need to transfer in the audio files(s) you wish to use. If you want a file to be available as a ringtone, put it in “Ringtones,” and so on. The list of supported media formats on Android can be found here [3]. You should check them out just in case. However, you will probably be using an MP3, as this is the most common and easy to work with format due to its widespread use.

Now it’s time to shift our focus to your Android device. I really love the song “Wasteland,” so this is what I’ll be using in all of these examples. I put Wasteland in all three folders: “Alarms,” “Notifications,” and “Ringtones.” But now we need to get the phone to use those files.

Let’s start of with ringtones. Go to “Settings” and then select “Sound & Notification.” Select “Phone Ringtone.” The file you added to the “Ringtones” folder should show up in the menu ringtone options. In my case it is, of course, “Wasteland.” You can select it from the menu and then tap “OK” to make it your ringtone.

Back in “Sound & Notification,” if you want to change your notification sound, go to “Default notification ringtone.” You can find it below “Phone Ringtone.” Changing your notification tone will be a similar process to the ringtone process I described above.

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Finally, in order to set your desired alarm, you will need to open the Clock app. Set your desired time and then touch the area near the bell icon in order to set your alarm tone.

Now you have fully customized your default Android sounds! You should be proud of yourself. In order to truly make a device feel like it’s yours, customization is important. One of the first places to start should be with the default system sounds. Thankfully, Android makes this possible with relatively little hassle. So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already, you should go and try this now.