iPhone and multiple library troubles

Alright, here's my situation:

-Computer: iMac, Mac OS X Leopard, iTunes 8.1.1.  The current library for this installation of iTunes is located on a secondary hard drive, at: Audio:Music:iTunes:iTunes Music

-External hard drive: Holds the iTunes library for my home computer.

-iPhone: Holds its own downloaded songs and applications.  Used to be homed/paired/joined/etc to a PowerBook that has since died.

I'd like to combine all iTunes Music Libraries into one library.  I'd like to keep this library on the external drive so that I can use it at home and at work.  I'd like the iPhone to be homed at the work iMac.  So, how do I combine all of the libraries (I'm okay to lose playlists, but I'd prefer to not)?  And, how do I move my iPhone to the iMac without losing any of the applications that I've paid for and downloaded to the iPhone?

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TechSupport_99Connect With a Mentor Commented:
If you associate the ipod with another computer then you will loose the ability to sync to both properly.
Copy the itunes folder from your main pc then paste it to your pc at work this will enable  you to sync in two locations. Cnet has a video which explains this process in detail. I do it with my iphone.
Can you be clearer?

Is the iMac you describe in your first sentence the same machine as "my home computer," which you refer to in the second?  Or are these two different machines?  If they're two different machines, are they networked or otherwise connected so that one of them can see files on the other?

On the iPhone, do you want to preserve the music that's currently on the iPhone, or do you count that as one of the "libraries" that you want to consolidate?  That is, does the iPhone contain music that is unavailable on either of your existing computers?

(The iPhone applications are a non-issue... they are tracked by your iTunes store account.  Even if you wiped your iPhone clean, or got a different iPhone, your iTunes store account keeps track of which apps you've purchased, and will download them again for you.)

TechComposerAuthor Commented:
Yep, figured out the iPhone thing.  iTunes could be clearer when they warn you that joining an iPhone to a new library will wipe it clean...

So, now I have an iPhone joined to my work computer (the iMac), and I've moved the iMac's iTunes music folder to the external drive.  I'm moving the existing music files in the library already located on the external drive to the iMac library that is now there.  I realize I'll lose those playlists, play counts, etc...that's fine.  Once those music files are consolidated, I plan to move the library itself from the iMac to the external drive, open iTunes with an Alt-Click, and point iTunes to the "new" (relocated) library.  I'm trusting that Apple wasn't stupid enough to build the iTunes libraries based on relative paths, but use full paths instead.  This way, I should be able to open the library with no "missing files", etc.  I plan to follow the same library relocation process on my home machine.

Do you see any problems with my proposed solution?

As long as you're moving the files themselves, and not just the pointers to the files, and as long as you only connect the iPhone to one of the two machines, and not the other, I don't see any issues.

I assume you're using iTunes "import" function to consolidate the libraries, rather than moving the files outside of Itunes, and have "copy files to iTunes music folder library when adding to library" and "Keep iTunes music folder organized" when importing both checked in the iTunes preferences.

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