How to Change the iPhone Text Message Sound Effect


The iPhone has the ability to play custom text message and iMessage alert sound effects, these custom text tones apply to all incoming messages. You can choose from many Apple provided text tones that are included with all iPhones, or, since this feature can choose any ringtone file to be set as a custom SMS sound, you can even use your own custom alert sounds if you want your messages to play any specific tone or sound effect.

Not only can you set custom text message tones for all of your incoming alerts, but you can also set custom text alert sounds on a per contact basis, so you’ll know who is texting you based on the alert sound alone. Both of these are great features that provide a great way to customize your iPhone experience, so let’s learn how to set message sound effects.

How to Change the Text Message Sound on the iPhone

If you’re tired of the default text tone sound effect, here is how to change the sound effect for all incoming Messages, SMS messages, iMessages with media, texts, and whatever other messages are coming to you:

  1. Tap on “Settings” and then tap on “Sounds”
  2. Tap on “Text Tone” and select from the list, you will find custom text tones appearing under “Ringtones” whereas defaults will appear under “Original” section
  3. Select a text tone you want to use to use and close out of Settings
Change Message Sound Effect for iPhone

Tapping a text tone will play a preview of the sound, the checkbox alongside the tone indicates it’s the current setting.

Again, this changes the message sound effect for ALL messages coming to the iPhone, but what if you want to set custom text alert sounds for specific people? You can do that too!

How to Set Custom Text Message Sound Tones Per Contact

SMS and iMessage alert sounds can also be customized on a per person basis, set on an individuals contacts page:

  1. Tap on “Phone” and then the “Contacts” tab on the bottom*
  2. Locate the contact to set a custom SMS / message tone for and tap on their name
  3. Tap on “Edit” and tap on “Text Tone”
  4. Just as above, tap on a new text tone to set it as the default for the selected contact

* Note you can also edit specific contacts and their accompanying text tones through the dedicated Contacts app on the iPhone.

iPhone Contacts icon

Remember free iPhone ringtones can be made with iTunes, and they can be used for text tones as well. Generally the shorter the text tone the better, unless you want to hear a song play when someone sends you a text message or iMessage, which can get annoying rather quickly.

This process is the same on all versions of iOS, so regardless of how new or old your iPhone is you can change the text tone sound this way. The settings may look slightly different depending on what version of iOS you’re running on the iPhone, but otherwise everything is the same. In prior versions it may look something like this:

iPhone Text Tone

With modern versions of iOS, you’ll have many more pre-bundled message sound effects to choose from, both for your ringtones and for text message tones, so just explore your options and pick one that you like the best.

By the way, setting custom alert sound effects for individual contacts when they message you is a really good tip, since you will begin to associate that sound with that person, you will know who is sending you a message before you even see the iPhone alert on your screen. You can use a similar trick with specific contacts calling ringtone too.


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