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This works fine in vim 8:

autocmd CursorHoldI * stopinsert

After about 5 seconds or so of inactivity in insert mode it automatically returns to normal mode.

However, in neovim I use the deoplete autocompletion plugin, which is great... except it stops this from working. Any way to have my cake and eat it too?

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    Seems to work well for me if I type :autocmd CursorHoldI * stopinsert in the Neovim command line. Maybe there is something else in your setup? See How do I debug my vimrc file? for some guidance on how to isolate the problem. – Martin Tournoij Oct 11 '18 at 3:27

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