Aligning to a certain object
The Align tools in all Adobe programs is a wonderful feature. However, in Illustrator when you Align objects it changes the position of ALL of them. In other programs, it tends to be the last object you select takes the dominant position - aligning all others to it. In Illustrator it doesn't seem to matter the order you select, it just aligns it to the nearest center point (thus moving ALL the objects). The Lock feature doesn't help as you cannot select a locked object to align with/to.
You can align to an object you choose to be the key one.. Click the object you want to use as a key the second time and Ai will use a bolder edge to highlight it.
More details here:
I'm pretty happy with the key object function.
Bobby Henderson commented
I don't like the extra clicks Illustrator requires of users to align objects. Certain rival applications automatically hold the first object or last object clicked or shift-clicked in place and the other objects align to it. I really dislike Illustrator's approach to aligning anchor points. These very simple things make Illustrator a chore to use for technical drawing purposes.
Just learn how to use key object setting by clicking one.
But I agree this is almost unlearnable — I've learnt this long-long ago, by accidentally misclicking an object, seeing a fat line and some experimenting (I never used Manual those days).
Please, don't make key base on order of selection. This would be a step back.
Dean Jones commented
While others have noted that there is a work around, I agree that the standard behavior is to align to the first (AutoDesk) or last (everything else I use) object that you select is MUCH faster.
After selecting the objects you want aligned, click AGAIN on the object you want them aligned TO. This key object will now hold its position, and the others will move relative to it.
Shivendra Agarwal commented
@Richelle: ALIGN TO KEY OBJECT will solve your purpose.