Here's a brief overview of Illustrator's different Selection Tools and how to use them.
Any object in Illustrator that you wish to manipulate or edit must first be selected. Only the object that you have selected will be edited.
When the object is selected, no matter what the shape of the object, it should be surrounded by a BOUNDING BOX. It will appear as if someone drew a box around your object and there will be eight small boxes (or handles) surrounding the object. Four on the corners, and four on the sides.
If you do not see the BOUNDING BOX when you select your object, it needs to be turned on for the purposes of this tutorial. To turn on the BOUNDING BOX feature go to your menu and select VIEW>SHOW BOUNDING BOX.
The BOUNDING BOX can be a bit cumbersome at first. In fact, I used Illustrator for a year or two before I finally realized it’s value. I always turned it off if I was working on a computer where the user used the BOUNDING BOX! The biggest value of the BOUNDING BOX will become apparent to you when you need to scale or reshape objects.
TIP: To deselect an object when using any of the selection tools, find an area of your artboard that is empty and click!
DIRECT SELECTION TOOL
Any paths or points that fall within you “drag area” will be selected. (Remember: solid points mean they are selected!)
TIP: You can also select multiple objects with the selection tools by having your drag area encompass multiple objects.
If possible, drag from the outside of your object to the inside. If your object has a fill color and you attempt to start your drag on the inside of the object, the entire object will be selected and will move with your drag. If the object does not have a fill color and is a stroked path, you can begin from the outside or inside.
The second way to use the DIRECT SELECTION TOOL is to click on a specific segment or point on the path of your object.
TIP: If you select a specific point and manipulate it and then wish to select another point to work on, simply click on the point you wish to switch to and the new point will be selected.
To select multiple objects in a group, but not the entire group, select each object you wish to manipulate one at a time with the group selection tool while holding down the SHIFT key.
If you wish to scale or reshape one object in a group but not affect the other objects in the group, first select the object with the GROUP SELECTION TOOL. With the object still selected, switch to your SELECTION TOOL and your BOUNDING BOX will appear on the selected object only and you can manipulate the object independently of the rest of the group.
When you are finished manipulating the object(s) in a group, click in an empty space in your artboard. You can now select the entire group with the selection tool.