iOS 4.2: Assigning SMS Text Tones

| TMO Quick Tip

Apple’s just released iOS 4.2.1 update added high visibility features like AirPrint and AirPlay support to the iPhone, but it also added some easily overlooked features like Text Tones. Text Tones is a feature that let’s iPhone 4 users assign custom SMS alert tones to individual contacts in their Address Book, and it’s easy to set up.

Start by editing a contact

To add a Text Tone to a contact, do this:

  • Select a contact in the iPhone’s Address Book.
  • Tap Edit.
  • Select text tone.
  • Choose an alert tone from Text Tone list.
  • Tap Safe, then tap Done.

Select text tone to add a custom SMS alert

Text Tones makes it easy to know when specific people send you SMS messages without looking at your iPhone, which can make it easier to know when a message needs immediate attention and when it’s OK to leave a message waiting.

Text Tone alerts appear in the New list

The down side to the new feature is that you’re limited to the Text Tone alert sounds that Apple provides, and most of those sound, well, less than stellar. Some of the tones are also fairly long which only helps to add to their overtly annoying nature.

Had Apple included the standard SMS alert tones in Text Tones users would’ve had a much nicer selection of sounds to choose from. That said, Text Tones adds a feature many iPhone users have been hoping for, and maybe we’ll get better alert tones with a future update.


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I agree the “new” text tones are too long and annoying. But at least you can still use any of the original set as well.  Now, if someone can develop an app to allow us to make our own custom tones—perhaps employing Apple’s sound effects collection at least—that would work.


This is really amazing. Thank you for your sharing. I love custom tones. Besides, if you need to copy your iPhone text messages onto your computer for backup or you want to print out your iPhone text messages, you can use this iPhone text messages to computer transfer guide:

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Sanduel:  Your suggestion of the program from gutensoft is okay for PC users, but you have to realize most of us on this particular forum use Macs.  Or was that a surprise?

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