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The following shortcuts I have defined in my settings:

"Select next/prev tabs
noremap <C-Tab> :tabnext<CR>
noremap <C-S-Tab> :tabprev<CR>

are for going to the previous and next tabs of open files. The only annoying thing about it is anytime I want to switch tabs, I have to first get out of insert mode. How can I force MacVim to register these shortcuts even if I'm in insert mode?

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Don't do that. Vim is a modal editor and you must get used to it if you want to get value from Vim. If you find modality annoying you should take a look at Sublime Text 2. – romainl Oct 15 '12 at 20:30
While I agree with you, @romainl, the beauty of Vim is that you can do pretty much whatever you want. And I wouldn't want to push people away from Vim simply because they want to be able to do a few extra things in insert mode. – Ryan Oct 15 '12 at 20:35
I'd rather have people do the effort to learn the proper Vim way than develop wrong habits. – romainl Oct 15 '12 at 20:41
switching a tab while in insert mode is not a wrong habit. Don't be a silly fanatic, dude. It's just a text editor. I, for one like the arrow keys because they allow me to move around even in input mode. Come on man, do you really care how someone edits their text files? It's not like you are developing an application together... What I came here to say was, I think this is not specific to macvim, I've had similar things happen to me in vim-vim. – Ярослав Рахматуллин Oct 15 '12 at 23:57
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Use inoremap for mapping keys in insert mode. noremap creates key mappings for normal, visual, and operator pending mode (source).

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