There are times when I just want to use a specific MP3 music track either as ringtone or as notification alert. On Android generally, this isn’t a hard thing to accomplish. But, on several of Samsung’s recent high-end releases, it’s nearly a walk in the park.

Samsung’s much-celebrated smartphones do have a long list of default ringtones and notification alerts to choose from. You can choose any one of them until you grow weary of it — and when you do, and when you’ve run through all tones on the list, what else do you have left to do? You add your own MP3 to the list, of course.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to set an MP3 file as custom ringtone or notification sound on certain high-end Samsung phones.

The instructions in this guide have been known to work on the Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy S3 running stock TouchWiz with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean or higher; these may also work on other Samsung phones that I have not tested.

Root access on the phone is not needed either. This guide will still work even if your phone is rooted, provided that your phone runs at least Android 4.1 with stock TouchWiz.  The procedures may be a bit different if your phone is running a custom ROM or a different version of Android.

The MP3 files that you want to use must already be on your phone. There are many ways to copy MP3 files to your phone, but I won’t be covering those here.

Via Settings menu
To set an MP3 file for use as custom ringtone system-wide, do the following:

  1. Copy the MP3 files to your phone. The stock Samsung Music Player app ought to be able to see the files. Check whether the music tracks appear in the Music Player app.
  2. Go to Settings > Sound > Device ringtone. You will see a list of the phone’s default ringtones.
  3. Tap the Add button to launch the media manager app. If your phone has several file/media manager apps, select Music Player from the popup box.
  4. You will see a list of music files stored on your phone. Select one and tap Done.
  5. Your selected MP3 track will now be your custom ringtone. Repeat the same process to add more custom ringtones to the default ringtones list.

Via Music Player
You can also set a system-wide custom MP3 ringtone through the Music Player app:

  1. Play the desired MP3 music file in the Music Player app.
  2. While the file is playing, tap the capacitive Menu button to open the Options menu.
  3. Select Set as and choose whether you want to set the ringtone as a phone ringtone, caller ringtone, or alarm tone.