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Those Project and Context toolbar buttons are a trap for the unwary! They are okay for the complete beginner, who doesn't make any changes to the view settings, and they are okay for the more advanced user who understands what they do and how to tailor their behavior. The people in between just get confused and frustrated!

If you switch between project view and context view with View->Planning Mode and View->Context Mode (command-1 and 2 respectively), or put the Mode or Switch buttons in the toolbar (View->Customize Toolbar) and use them, you can switch back and forth without disturbing your settings.