NOTE: With the proliferation of smart phones that can use MP3 files as ringtones, this page is severely outdated - unless you have an older phone that really uses the GCD ringtone files, such as the Sanyo SCP4900.

How to Download Your Own
Ringtones and "Screensavers"
to your Sprint® PCS phone for

Welcome! Before I get into the specifics, I've got to rant about how I really dislike the term "screensavers" as it does not accurately represent the media that you are downloading. The media file certainly does NOT save your screen. It's merely a graphic file that actually wears out your screen. Argh! Okay... I feel much better now.

In any case, that's not what this web page is about. I'm posting this information to save you, the faithful (and often frustrated) Sprint PCS subscriber from unnecessarily paying for ringtones and images. Sure, they're fun and cute at times. But why should you have to pay outrageous prices to get these tiny morsels?

Sprint wants you to (get this...) rent ringtones and pictures for your phones. I don't know if it's technically possible, or even legal, for them to erase downloads from your phone without your permission. What I do know is that you don't have to pay to download media files to your phone. All it takes is a little technical savvy on your part and access to a web server. You can use any web server that allows you to set MIME types for files. While I don't know the specifics of each server, you could possily use the Personal Web Server in Windows 98, or move up to a real, reliable Apache web server (my personal favorite) on a Linux box.

Because the web server requires certain changes, you either need to be the administrator of the system, or be able to persuade the administrator to configure a new MIME type to be delivered by the web server. This is likely to be the hardest part of the process.

Here's step-by-step instructions:

  1. Configure a new MIME type for your web server. Contact the server administrator if you are not the person. The procedure varies for different server types, so I will leave it to you to determine the best method to accomplish this. The MIME type to be added is: text/x-pcs-gcd. The extension to associate with the type is: gcd. If you can't get this step done, there's no use continuing because the web server MUST return the appropriate MIME type for the rest of this stuff to work. Take a look at "Alternative Methods" below for other possible options.

  2. Create or obtain the media file that you want to be able to download to your phone. Sorry. I don't have specs on how to create MIDI ringtones, though I'll bet a  Google Search  will turn up all sorts of programs to create and edit MIDI files. I've read that 120(W) x 112(H) pixels is a preferred size for images. The Sanyo SCP-4900 seems to chop a bit off the top, though, and I recommend 120Wx96H for that phone only. Other phones have different screen sizes. Another thing I've noticed is that on my Sanyo SCP-4900, part of the top and bottom of each images is overlayed with the caller-id info. If you don't want to obscure your images, keep that in mind when you create or download them.

    And be sure you get the file right the first time. I can't stress this enough. Sprint's proxy seems to cache everything for an undetermined amount of time. I tried to correct an image on my website and subsequent downloads of that filename resulted in an error (Data Error 904 / Size Mismatched, followed by Install Failed.). The only remedy was to rename the file. Their proxy appears to NOT check if the files have been modified (available from an HTTP HEAD request) and obtain the newer file. Blasted! Well, just be careful and post what you're really ready to post. I was diligent and updated the Version number (see below), but that didn't help. It looks to me like the proxy cached the .gcd file. Arrrgh!

  3. Get the real file size of this media file. In Windows™, you will need to right-click on the file and choose Properties to get the correct file size - in bytes. For example, Windows 98 shows three file sizes in the file properties window. The first one is in KB (kilobytes, or thousands of bytes). The third is the actual space that it holds and reserves on the hard drive (usually 8,192 or 16,384 bytes). The second number, in parentheses, is the size you need to make note of. This second number is the actual size of the file - in bytes. This is VERY important.

  4. Create a text file. In it you will place the information necessary for your phone to find the media file. Follow the format of each line below. I haven't tested it, but I don't believe order is important; just be sure you have all the info in the file.
    Content-Type: image/jpeg
    Content-Name: MyPic
    Content-Version: 1.0
    Content-Vendor: ME
    Content-Size: 5299
    What this info means:
    Content-Type: This is the MIME type of the media file. image/jpeg for JPEG images, image/gif for GIF images, image/bmp for Windows bitmaps, and audio/midi for midi ringtones
    Content-Name: This may be any name you like, preferably something descriptive of the image or ringtone. This appears as the name of the file on my phone.
    Content-Version: Used to determine if your downloading a newer version of the file. This can be useful if you modify a file and want to track its versions. Otherwise, it's unimportant.
    Content-Vendor: Free for whatever you want. Make up a vendor name, use your own. It doesn't really matter, except this is displayed as the originator of the file. Have fun with it!
    Content-URL: is the full URL to the media file. On Unix systems, this is case-sensitive.
    Content-Size: is the exact byte size of the file. If this is not correct, the file will be considered corrupt and the download will fail! See the previous step for more info about file size.

  5. Save the text file. The name of the file isn't important, but the extension (.gcd) is very important. I like to name mine the same name as the base name of the media file. For example, if the media file is MyPic.jpg, I'll name the info file MyPic.gcd. I think it's easier to keep track of which media file goes with which .gcd file if you match them up this way.
    Note: Format the file similarly for ringtones. Just use the correct filename and content-type where appropriate. The content-type for MIDI ringtones should be audio/midi.

  6. Upload the files to your web site. Be sure to upload the media files (pictures and ringtones) as binary, and the .gcd file as ASCII.

  7. Create a web page (something.html) that contains a list of files. What you'll want to do is point the link to the .gcd file and give it a good description. Remember that you (or your web visitors) will be viewing this page on a cell phone with a tiny screen, so keep it small and to the point. For example:
    <A HREF="">Stairway</A><BR>
    <A HREF="">Entertainer</A><BR>
    <A HREF="">MyPic</A><BR>
    <A HREF="">J-Lo</A><BR>
    This is just a sample. You can be as creative or conservative as you like. If you're really energetic, you could setup a database and to searches on categories and the like. That's a big step beyond the scope of this document (perhaps I'll find the time to write another tutorial later). Just be sure to specify the correct paths to the .gcd files and you'll do fine.

    The following steps were done on my Sanyo SCP4900 phone. I don't have access to the other PCS Vision™-capable phones, so your mileage may vary (the menus may act a little differently). If that is the case, please consult your User's Manual for your phone to download and assign ringtones and "screensavers".

  8. Using your phone, point the browser to the URL of your newly created web page of media links.

  9. Select a link and the phone will download the .gcd file. You will then be warned: "This is not a trusted file. Sprint cannot guarantee. [Continue] or [Cancel]?"

  10. Choose [Continue] to download the file.

  11. If the file already exists, you'll be warned: WARNING! Same version already exists. Press [OK] to continue. Press the OK hotkey to continue, or Back to go back to the list. If it's a new file, skip the next step.

  12. If you say OK, you'll be prompted with the options: Overwrite | Cancel. Overwrite will delete the file currently on your phone and download the newly selected file. Cancel will tell you Install Failed. Press [Continue] before returning you to the list.

  13. If you overwrite, or this is a new file that didn't previously exist on your phone, you'll see a progress window appear next.

  14. When the file has completed downloading, you'll see: Now post processing and saving... Please wait. Shortly after you'll see an info screen appear showing the title, size, time & date of the download, and the free space remaining. Your menu choices become: [Next] [Shop]

  15. Next will display the menu choices: View / Assign / Options / Exit for images, or Play / Assign / Options / Exit for ringtones.
    View - Shows you the image you just downloaded
    Play - Plays the new ringtone
    Assign - Lets you assign images to: Incoming Calls / Screen Saver / Phone Book
    Assign - Less you assign ringtones to: Voice Calls / Voicemail / Messaging / Start-up Tone / Power-off Tone / Phone Book
    Options - Properties / Erase
    Exit - Get out of this menu
    You don't have to assign anything now. You can assign these later by visiting the Downloads menu item on your phone.

  16. Exit takes you back to Screen Savers list.

  17. Press [End] to get out of the downloads screens.

That's it! It may look like too many steps, but they really are fairly quick and painless. Best of all, they're FREE!

Alternative Methods
If you don't want to create a web page listing of your files, you can send your self a text message containing the URL of the .gcd file. Go to Sprint's  Send a Wireless Web message  page. Enter your phone number in the number field, and enter the URL in the message box. Send the message and wait for it to appear on your phone. When it does, you'll be able to select an option to go to the web address. This will be the same as if you had clicked the link on a web page.

Alternately, send an e-mail to yourself at <your-phone-number>
Enter the URL in the body of the message. The subject is ignored. Again, the message will appear on your phone. You'll have similar options as you would if you sent it via the web page.

The only disadvantage (that I can think of) to sending the URL to your phone via a message is that the total message length is limited to 160 characters. If the path to your media files is longer than that, you really need to think about how to shorten the URL path.

A Request
If this web page has been helpful, be sure to pass the info on to your friends. You may copy this page verbatim, just include a note where you got it.
Suggested link:
<A HREF="">Original document by Michael Skurka</A>.

Want some samples to start off with? Point your phone  here , or preview the pictures  here . For a preview of all pictures on one page, look  here .

This information is based on personal experience with a specific phone and web server. ** There is no guarantee that this won't destroy your phone or cause global chaos. ** It may actually cause cancer in laboratory animals. ** Do NOT use this information if you are not prepared to accept the consequences of your actions. ** No animals were harmed in the making of this document; however, millions of electrons were highly inconvenienced.

Sprint is a registered trademark of Sprint Communications Company L.P.. Sprint PCS is a service mark of Sprint Communications Company L.P.. PCS Vision is a service mark of Sprint Spectrum, L.P.. All other marks are property of their respective owners.

This website and its author are not endorsed or compensated by Sprint. This is a document of original invention, prepared for the good of mankind.

Verified accurate: October 6, 2004 Valid HTML 4.01!