How to Create iPhone Ringtones from TV Show Soundtracks Using Audio Hijack Pro and GarageBand '08

The other day I was looking forward to watching NHL playoff games, and started thinking about how much fun it would be to watch Hockey Night in Canada on the CBC instead of Versus.

I went over to CBC.ca and watched the HNIC Playoff Preview Show on the CBC Sports Video Player. The player is a Flash-based application that sits in your browser of choice. After a brief video introduction, the Hockey Night in Canada Opening was shown. This is a series of highlights playing over the Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song. The opening sequence lasted about 45 seconds.

Occasionally I hear people talking about trying to buy the Hockey Night in Canada theme as their ringtone for their mobile phone. Nobody I know has it as their ringtone on their iPhone. I decided to try to use Mac software to create an iPhone ringtone of the actual Hockey Night in Canada Theme as broadcast by the CBC. I had no idea how easy this would turn out to be.

Before I describe this technique, I want to warn you that distributing copyrighted material such as the Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song is probably illegal where you live. However, no one can stop you from making an iPhone ringtone for your own personal use using the following technique.

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The software I used to make this ringtone was Audio Hijack Pro from Rogue Amoeba Software ($32 direct from the developer) and GarageBand '08 which is part of the iLife '08 software suite from Apple.

Audio Hijack Pro allows you to intercept (or hijack) the audio output of any application running on your Mac, and save it as an MP3 file. I hijacked the audio output of Safari and captured the Hockey Night in Canada Theme Song in about as much time as it took to locate the Opening in the program and then watch and listen to that opening.

Once I had the MP3 file, I brought it into GarageBand '08 and did the following:

  1. I positioned the MP3 on the timeline so that the beginning of the song was at time 0:00.
  2. I clicked the button called "Cycle Region" in the second set of controls below the timelines. That button needs to be clicked to "on" before a ringtone can be created.
  3. I clicked and dragged the region of the time bar representing the music I wanted as part of my ringtone. I learned from Googling around that the sound had to be 40 seconds or less in duration, so I made sure that I only selected that amount of time in the time bar.
  4. I chose "Send Ringtone to iTunes" from the "Share" menu.

This last step automatically exported the music clip as a ringtone and caused iTunes to import it. The next time I synced my iPhone, the custom ringtone was automatically transferred to it.

Once that was done, I could designate my Hockey Night in Canada ringtone as my default ringtone. Better yet, I decided to make it a ringtone unique to some of my friends from hockey and hockey officiating.

The true power of this technique is that you can capture and convert into a ringtone any sound that your Mac can play for you. This means the entire repertoire of YouTube is at your disposal, as well as things like Hulu, current programming from all of the major networks, and things like CBS Classic TV episodes.

I'm thinking of making a ringtone of the Hawaii Five-O Theme Song or the Love that Good n' Plenty Jingle from the 1960s next. [ Hat tip to The Mac Observer for their article Making Custom Ringtones with GarageBand ]