How to Use ChatGPT

Once you have an account, you can get help with questions, writing song lyrics, computer code, and more

What to Know

  • You can use ChatGPT to write text, song lyrics, computer code, and summarize longer texts.
  • ChatGPT is not good for talking about politics, anything that happened after 2021, or writing long text.

ChatGPT is a powerful, flexible artificial intelligence tool that helps you do all kinds of things. This article explains how to use ChatGPT, what it's best used for, and what applications it's not good at.

How Can I Use ChatGPT?

To take advantage of the AI-powered chat tool, follow these steps:

  1. On the ChatGPT website, click Sign Up to create an account. If you already have an OpenAI account, you can Log In.

    The ChatGPT login screen

    As of this writing, there is no official ChatGPT smartphone or desktop app. You only use ChatGPT via your browser.

  2. After logging in, you'll be at the ChatGPT interface. It offers a few suggestions and tips on its limitations, as well as a text box for your chats.

    You can have multiple, ongoing chats or make all of your interactions one long conversation.

    To create a new chat, click + New Chat.

    The main ChatGPT interface
  3. Either enter a prompt and hit Return/Enter or click the send icon.

    ChatGPT suggesting a dinner party menu

What Types of Uses Is ChatGPT For?

ChatGPT writing lyrics to a country song about dishwashers

ChatGPT can be used for many different reasons. You'll have fun seeing how your imagination and creativity can challenge the tool. To get you started, here are some categories you can use ChatGPT for and some suggested prompts.

  • Summarize Long Documents: ChatGPT can distill longer works into short, digestible summaries. Try prompts like "summarize War and Peace" or "summarize the Book of Genesis."
  • Answer Questions: You can get answers to fact-based questions with ChatGPT (though with some limitations and inaccuracies, as mentioned in the next section). Experiment with prompts like "what was the population of the United States in 1970?"
  • Make Suggestions: ChatGPT can make suggestions such as "suggest a menu for a fancy dinner party."
  • Write Text for Specific Situations: Need to write a specific type of message or text? ChatGPT can deliver a good draft. Try prompts like "write a note excusing my son from PE class" or "write an email requesting a conference call at 3pm on Tuesday."
  • Write Text an Author's Style: ChatGPT can imitate well-known authors. Have fun by getting it to write in an author's style for virtually any type of text you need. Try "write a child's birthday party invitation in the style of Edgar Allan Poe."
  • Write Songs: While it can't generate music (yet!), ChatGPT can pen song lyrics in combinations that are serious or silly. Experiment by asking it to "write a love song" or "write a country song about dishwashers."
  • Write Computer Code: Programmers have been surprised at how effective ChatGPT is at helping them write code in many different programming languages. Try prompts like "write a Javascript function to open a pop-up window".

What Is ChatGPT Not Good At?

ChatGPT saying it doesn't know the current time

To put it too simply, ChatGPT is a very sophisticated matching tool. That means that, while it may seem like it's creating things from scratch, it's actually just imitating things in its dataset (that dataset just happens to contain billions of examples, making its matches very comprehensive). Still, because ChatGPT only matches what it's been trained on, it's not good at things like:

  • Date and Time. ChatGPT doesn't know what year it is, what day it is, or what time it is. In fact, ChatGPT can't provide information on anything after 2021, when GPT was released. That means no discussion of current events or information that was generated/discovered since 2021.
  • Writing very long text: Informally, ChatGPT responses have a limit of about 500 words. Or, as the AI itself says: "To ensure that my responses are concise and informative, I try to keep my answers between a few sentences to a few paragraphs long, depending on the complexity of the question and the amount of information required to provide a helpful response."
  • Predictions: ChatGPT can only talk about things that happened up to 2021 and it can't predict the future. As it told me: "As an AI language model, I do not have the ability to predict future events such as the winner of the 2024 Super Bowl."
  • Talking Politics: ChatGPT is designed to be politically neutral: "I cannot make any recommendations on who you should vote for in the 2024 US presidential election or any other election. Deciding who to vote for is a personal decision that requires careful consideration of a variety of factors."
  • Performing Web Searches: While ChatGPT and Google have much of the same data in them, ChatGPT can't search the web. It can only search the (very large) database of documents and data that was used to create it.
  • Creating Images or Video: ChatGPT is a text-only tool. To create images or videos, try other AI tools like Dall-E or Stable Diffusion.
  • Is ChatGPT free?

    The basic version of ChatGPT is free. A premium version called ChatGPT Plus is also available for $20 a month which lets you try new features as soon as they're available.

  • What does "ChatGPT" stand for?

    "ChatGPT" is short for "Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer." That's a fancy way of saying that it generates text based on adapting information the programmers have fed it.

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