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 and adjust the security settings to your taste.

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

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.


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. 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.


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.

7 thoughts on “How to Set a Custom Ringtone, Notification, or Alarm on Your Android Phone”

Avatar Yehuda says:
Unfortunately changing alarm sound as described does not work on BLU Dash XL
Avatar Pnina says:
Hello how do I set a custom ringtone for a phone contact on Andoid 6
For some reason I can only see this feature in my contacts, if the contact is also on whatsup

Thank you

Avatar Prateek Jindal says:
How to change notification of an app to alarm.
Avatar William Elcock says:
If you know the location of where the notification file is, copy it to the ‘Alarms’ folder. There should be a folder corresponding to the app where you can find the notification file.
Avatar Cushie says:
I have set my custom ringtone under Settings,Sound and it works fine until i reboot the phone and then it reverts back to Android’s default. I cannot get my ringtone as permanent default, hoe do i do that?
Avatar seenhear says:
Nice tutorial, but what I really wish was easy to do (or even possible) is to assign a notification tone to a specific contact. As far as I can tell, without using 3rd party apps (which I don’t like to do) it is not possible for me to have a specific notification tone for texts from my wife that is different from text notifications from other people. All text/sms notifications (or email or whatever) are the same for all contacts. At this very late stage in the Android OS game, this should be a built-in feature. Have I missed it? Is there a way to do this?
Avatar William Elcock says:
Not as far as I know.
Avatar Oyvind says:
seenhear, I don’t know what version of Android you’re using, but in 7.1.1 (maybe even before) you can set your own ringtones and notifications from SMS on each of the native Google apps.

In Phone: Press the three dots on the contact, and select ringtone.
In Messages: Go into a conversation with a contact, press the three dots and select the top option, which should say something like “The persons app and alternatives”. There you can select the notification sound.

Avatar Segata Sanshiro says:
Honestly, this was the most helpful tutorial I found. Every other one had instructions on programs to download to do this. It’s a little annoying that we have to put them in specific folders, but when you know, it’s not so bad.

Thanks again!!

Avatar William Elcock says:
You’re welcome!
Avatar Vikas Sachdeva says:
I am using vivo y55l with android 6.0.1 and i tried everything for custom notification ringtone but no mp3 ringtone added in my system notification ringtone after using this method. Pls tell me another way
Avatar Mushi says:
Thank you so much. I can use my custom ringtones now!
Avatar William Elcock says:
You’re welcome! Glad it helped!
Avatar seenhear says:
This is a great set of instructions, thanks! Is there a way to set a specific sound/tone to a specific person/contact, for sms alerts? I’d like to know when important people text me, but so many sms alerts I don’t care about. I think there are several apps that can do this, but I’m wondering if it’s possible with system settings (no app). Thanks!
Avatar William Elcock says:
Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately I have not come across any methods to set individual sms alerts without a third party app.

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