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In many cases I want to move an object into alignment with another object in Inkscape. I do not want to use align and distribute because that will move both objects. I want to keep the existing object where it is, and move the new object to be flush with it. How can I do that?

Example 1: I have an existing rectangle. I have just drawn a new rectangle and I want the top of the new rectangle to be aligned with the top of the existing rectangle.

Example 2: I have an existing rectange. I want to place text in the center of that rectangle, but I do not want to move the rectangle.

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Change the value of "Relative to:" in the Align and Distribute menu. Using "First selected" or "Last selected" is probably your best option; they will keep one object stationary and move the other (depending on the order in which you select the objects).

Here's an illustrated example to show how this works.

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