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I'm trying to tailor vim to my needs and I would like vim to visually indicate when it is in some kind of edit mode (insert/replace) by, for example, coloring the background red. Is there any way to achieve this?

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Something like this? stackoverflow.com/questions/7614546/… –  jasonwryan Oct 22 '12 at 20:49
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Or this? Found in about 5 seconds of googling. vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=53 –  tink Oct 22 '12 at 21:49
    
@tink - You should make that an answer. –  ire_and_curses Oct 22 '12 at 22:02
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2 Answers

The vim-powerline plugin provides a nicely colored indicator of the current mode in the statusline: http://i.imgur.com/MsuIB.png

In addition to other useful indicators, like the current git branch.

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I added this to my .vimrc it change the background to yellow only when I am in insert mode

:au InsertEnter * hi Normal term=reverse ctermbg=darkgrey guibg=yellow "

:au InsertLeave * hi Normal term=NONE ctermbg=black guibg=white "

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