Create an iPhone ringtone from a Voice Memo recording

A friend recently asked me if it’s possible to make an iPhone ringtone from a Voice Memo recording. The answer is yes, of course! This article describes how, step by step. You might want to do this for several reasons. Humor is one, of course, but why not have a few friends, the kids or a relative use the Voice Memos app to record themselves saying, “It’s me,” then use that as a custom tone for those contacts? It’s fun and easy. Here’s how to do it.

Recording the voice memo

Apple’s Voice Memos app reminds me of businessmen in movies from the 1980’s who were always reciting important tidbits into pocket-sized tape recorders. Today, Voice Memos lets you do something very similar, minus the cassettes and the DeLorean. To make a recording, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Voice Memos app.
  2. The main window appears. To begin your recording, tap the red Record/Pause button on the left.
  3. A “ding” signifies the start of a recording. When you’re finished, tap the Stop button in the lower right (another “ding” signifies the recording’s conclusion).
  4. The list view appears and your newly-recorded message plays back.

That’s it! You’ve made a recording. If you’re satisfied with it, great. If not, tap Done in the upper right-hand corner and try again. Before we move on to the next section, I’ll offer a couple of notes. First, watch the needle while you’re recording. If it’s spending a lot of time in the red, your source is too loud. Back away or reduce the volume if you can. Also, you can trim a recording if you’ve got some unwanted sound at the beginning or end. Here’s how.

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Mac apps I love that started on iOS

Some of the Mac apps that I love and rely on were born on iOS. In fact, several applications have made that transition successfully, like Echofon and that damn Angry Birds. Others have become an important part of my work day. Here are two of my favorites.


To say that I spend a lot of time reading RSS feeds is like saying Boeing dabbles in aeronautics. I’ve tried several apps and none have satisfied my need for speed, reliability and extensive keyboard shortcuts like Reeder. It doesn’t balk at the huge number of queries I throw at it and, best of all, the keyboard shortcuts are abundant and easy to remember. For example:

  1. Open in a browser: B
  2. Mark as read: A
  3. Previous: K
  4. Next: J

There’s no modifyer key or awkward combinations that require the fingers of a contortionist. It’s a super reader.

Twitter for Mac (formerly Tweetie)

Before it became the official Twitter app for Mac, Tweetie was born on the iOS. Today, I rely on it heavily while working, and that’s because of the tiny blue dots.

Twitter for Mac supports multiple accounts, displaying each one’s avatar on the main window’s left-hand side. A small blue dot appears next to each as new tweets arrive. The dot’s position identifies the incoming tweet as a mention, direct message or general timeline tweet. As a result, I can monitor which of my many accounts has a mention or DM awaiting my attention. It’s extremely useful.

But that’s not all, sports fans

The opposite is true, too: several Mac apps have spawned stellar iOS companions. My favorites either compliment or duplicate the original’s feel and function so well, that they’re a joy to use. Here are a few standouts.

Billings Touch

I dare say the iPhone version of Marketcircle’s time-tracking app is even more pleasant than its Mac counterpart. Create projects, clients, invoices and more on the fly and in the field. Plus it syncs wirelessly with the desktop version (though you must be on the same Wi-Fi network).


I’ve been using The Omni Group’s project manager on the Mac for quite a while and again, I prefer the iPad version. It’s slick, beautiful and so thoughfully designed you’d almost think it was an iOS app first.


This app is beautiful, functional and fun. I’ve recorded audio with it via the iPad Camera Connection Kit. Typically I recored two or three podcasts per week. Being able to do so at nearly any locaiton with such a minimal setup is fantastic. My kids and I love making music with it, and it even keeps them entertained on long road trips.

Not every app could or should make this transition. However, it can turn out very well, as these five apps demonstrate. Good work, all!


iPad Camera Connection Kit and GarageBand

The more I play with the iPad Camera Connection Kit, the more I realize what a little chunk of magic it is. Tonight I’ve used it to connect a Blue Snowball mic to the iPad 2 for audio recording with GarageBand. The iPad recognized the mic instantly and made it available in GarageBand. Below is a brief test recording.

Recorded in GarageBand for iPad with a Blue Snowball mic and iPad Camera Connection Kit.

While hardly a professional rig, I can see using this setup to record audio on location with minimal fuss. In fact, the mic is the largest piece of equipment. You say you want a simple way to record an episode of your podcast at the local pub? Here it is (and much cheaper than mic + laptop).

For more fun with the iPad Camera Connection Kit:


Back to the Mac thoughts [Updated]

Now that today’s press event is over, I want to comment on a few things. First, the changes to iLife.

iPhoto 11

It’s tempting to dismiss the consumer-pleasing features of iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand as fodder for soccer moms and grandparents. Before you do, remember that this type of user represents a huge number of Apple’s customers. Also, I’m as geeky as they come and can’t wait to try some of these new features.

I like that iPhoto 11 lets you email a photo(s) from within the app. No more being pushed out to Mail, which was potentially time consuming depending on how much incoming mail you’d have to download before distributing your shots.

The improved Facebook integration will be nice for those who use it (comments posted on Facebook to photos shared via iPhoto will show up in iPhoto). Also, picture book creation is greatly improved. Navigating the new carousel view closely resembles swiping in iOS, especially while in full screen mode.

iMovie 11

The fact that I can score video of my son’s T-Ball game with music provided by the London Symphony Orchestra makes me giddy. Some will lament that Apple is giving production tools to amateurs who lack a filmmaker’s eye or aesthetic sense. That’s missing the point.

Today’s iMovie demo had me just as enthused as I was when the software was first introduced 2001. Designing professional-style trailers with dramatic soundtracks and so on will be tremendously fun for me and those who receive projects as gifts. On the technical side, the face detection is extremely impressive. I can’t wait to use this software.

GarageBand 11

The story here is groove track (“spell checker for bad rhythm”). The idea is that you let one track determine the tempo for the others. In the demo, a rock-solid drum track was chosen, and the guitar and bass tracks were synced up, time-wise, through what I suspect is a miracle. I’m eager to see how this works in real life, as I’m skeptical.

I was also impressed with the visual feedback offered while sight reading. I only wish it was available for drummers. I’d love for my Mac to listen while I played on my practice pad and offer the same feedback regarding my successful playing and my mistakes. It would also be nice to compare/contrast performance across repeated attempts at playing the same piece of music.

Full-screen mode

Adding full screen mode to these apps is a huge plus. When you run an app on an iOS device, it essentially becomes whatever that app does. There are no partially-obscured windows, bouncing dock items, etc. to compete for your attention. When I launch Twitterrific, my iPad becomes a Twitter client. Open Outside on my iPhone and it becomes a weather station.

Now, your Mac becomes a photo editor. A book designer. A video editor. This will encourage focus and, I predict, become a part of more and more apps.


I thought iChat would get re-branded as “FaceTime for Mac,” but Apple went with a standalone app (for the beta at least). Unfortunately, I’m unable to get it working on my Mac, but I can see how it could catch on. While FaceTime is a marquee feature of the iPhone 4 and soon the Mac OS, I don’t know anyone who has used the service more than 2 or 3 times. Perhaps adding a few million Macs to the pool of potential participants will change that.

Mac OS X Lion

As Steve noted, Apple has issued 7 major Mac OS releases in the past 10 years. That’s an extremely impressive statistic. I can say that today’s brief glimpse of Lion has me more eager than I was for Leopard.

The important thing to note is that Apple slowly, carefully and purposefully updates its products. It’s clear that Apple’s designers and engineers learn from their experiences and then apply those lessons in meaningful and effective ways.

The features of Lion that resemble their iOS counterparts aren’t there because the iOS is “hot” now or because Apple wishes to glom the popularity of one platform onto another. They exist because they improve the product. That type of attentiveness and growth is exactly why I admire this company so deeply.

The MacBook Air

I can’t say much about these machines until I use one, but I believe the 11.6-inch model could be the machine for me. I write for a living, and that means I don’t need huge amounts of storage. Nor do I run pro apps like Final Cut Studio. The vast majority of files and such that I work with live “in the cloud.”

This machine is small, light and features a full-sized keyboard. It’s much less expensive than I thought it would be. It also lacks an optical drive. The truth is, the optical drive in my MacBook Pro died years ago. I never replaced it and never missed it.

Steve said that the new Air represents the “future of the notebook.” Until flash memory prices come down it will stay exist far in the future (64GB on  storage won’t cut it for many people). Still, Steve has a knack for looking ahead and seeing what’s there.

I believe he’s done it again.