iPhone 5: How to Change the Ringtone for Text Messages

If you’re like me, the default sound the iPhone 5 makes when receiving a text message (or iMessage) drives you bonkers. That bit of audio just grates on my nerves. One of the very first things I did when setting up my new phone recently was to change the text tone. As I did this, my daughter (who has an older iPhone) exclaimed: “I didn’t even know you could change that!” That’s when it dawned on me that this is yet another non-intuitive piece of the iOS puzzle and the reason I decided to write this short tutorial.

Before you change your tone, you should decide if you want to use one of the pre-installed tones or buy custom ones from iTunes. To browse through thousands of custom tones, you’ll need to open up the iTunes app on your phone and click on the Search function.

If you have a favorite music artist, they may have an alert tone. Search for their name and then scroll down the results past their song and album offerings. You’ll see ringtones and under that will be a list of any associated Alert Tones you can purchase. The same works for any favorite comediens or television shows. It may take more than one search to find something you like, but I promise there’s something there for everyone’s taste.

When you purchase your tone, iTunes will automagically ask you if you want to assign it to all contacts or a specific contact. It downloads the Alert to the proper place within your device and sets it as the new default for any/all contacts you have chosen. That makes this entire process pretty simple, right?

But what if you’re like me and you just don’t want to waste money buying a custom tone? There’s definitely nothing wrong with that! Your iPhone 5 has several different options already installed for you to choose from. Here’s where you can find them and how you’ll need to change the default sound:

Open Sounds – On your device, tap the Settings icon to open it and then click on Sounds.

Open Text Tones – Once in the Sounds control panel, scroll down until you see the heading “Sounds and Vibration Patterns.” From there, click on the second option which is “Text Tone.”

Choose New Tone – Once in this pane, you can turn up or down the vibration settings during text messages. You’ll see that option at the top. Under that are all of the various Alert Tones you can choose from. Tap on each tone individually to hear a sample of what you will hear each time you receive a text or iMessage. Continue going down the list until you’ve found the sound you want to use.

Notice that as you tap to preview each option a little checkmark appears to the right. That means that is the selected preference – until you tap on a different one. Therefore, to set your new Alert Tone, you simply tap the sound you wish to use and ensure the checkmark is present. Then simply click on the “Sounds” arrow/button at the top-left of the screen to go back to your main Sounds panel.

Once you click that button and are back at the main Sounds page, you’ll see that the Alert Tone you chose is listed within the “Text Tone” row now.

Enjoy your new Alert Tone!

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