The Apple blog published a nice article explaining how to create free ringtones using only the Apple iTunes software. The only restriction of that method is that the song needs to reside on the hard drive of the user so that a ringtone can be created from it.
The method is pretty straightforward but requires a bit of manual work. Start by right-clicking the song in iTunes that you want to create a ringtone from and select Get Info from the context menu. Click on the Options tab in the new window and pick a start and stop time for the ringer. It has to be exactly 30 seconds or less so consider this. Click Ok when you are done.
Now right-click the song and select Convert Selection to AAC from the menu. Now open your iTunes music library and drag and drop the newly created song to another location on the hard drive and delete the song in the iTunes library.
Now change the extension of the song from .m4a to .m4r and add it again to iTunes. You can either import it from within iTunes or double-click it if iTunes is the program of choice to open that file.
Update: Please note that the method is still working in newer versions of iTunes. Let me demonstrate how it is done in iTunes 11 which just got released.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.