If you want to see objects in the scene but avoid selecting them then layers are you best solution. Place the objects in a layer then you can make that layer either a reference or a template layer.
Switching to camera based selection (hold down the q-key and left mouse button will bring up a marking menu) can also be a quick fix for those cases when you are selecting a small object in front of a larger one but maya insists on selecting the bigger object.
"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Sir Isaac Newton, 1675
Last edited by ctbram : 16-12-2010 at 11:07 PM.