ChatGPT: How to Use the AI Chatbot for Free – How-To Geek

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AI tools have been making waves. First, it was AI image generators, then came ChatGPT with the ability to generate human-like text conversations. The potential for this technology is incredible, and you can use it right now.

What Is ChatGPT?
Is ChatGPT Free?
What Is ChatGPT Plus?
How to Use ChatGPT
How to Enable Web Browsing and Plugins in ChatGPT
How to Fix “At Capacity,” “Network Error,” and Other Problems
How to Save a ChatGPT Conversation
Frequently Asked Questions

ChatGPT was created by OpenAI, the same company that also made DALL-E 2, which kicked off the wave of AI image generators. While DALL-E 2 generates images, ChatGPT is solely text-based—and it’s not OpenAI’s first chatbot.
OpenAI’s original GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) chatbot was trained on a massive collection of text data from the internet, allowing it to generate human-like text in response to a prompt. It was followed with GPT-2 in 2019, GPT-3 in 2020, and ChatGPT on November 30, 2022.
ChatGPT works by using algorithms to analyze and generate text based on the prompt from the user. When a user inputs a prompt or question, ChatGPT uses its training data to generate a response that is similar to what a human might say in that context.
Essentially, ChatGPT is an advanced chatbot that uses the massive repository of text on the internet to attempt to converse like a human would. While it certainly comes across as knowledgeable (and has some interesting uses) it’s far from perfect.
RELATED: What Is ChatGPT, and Why Is It Important?
ChatGPT is free to use for anyone with an account on OpenAI’s website. You can create a free account with your email address, Google account, or Microsoft account. At the time of writing in February 2023, there are no usage limits on the free version of ChatGPT.
There is also a “ChatGPT Plus” subscription plan for $20 per month. It offers reliable availability when demand is high, faster response speeds, and priority access to new features like ChatGPT plugins.
ChatGPT Plus now gets you access to GPT-4, an upgraded model that’s more capable than the GPT-3.5 (technically, gpt-3.5-turbo) model in the free version of ChatGPT. You can also use Bing’s AI chat, which is built on GPT-4 as well.
RELATED: What Is ChatGPT Plus?
First, navigate to in a web browser on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. You’ll be asked to “Log In” or “Sign Up.” You can sign up with an email address, Google account, or Microsoft account for free.
You can also download the official ChatGPT iPhone app to get started. (An Android app is coming soon.)

After you’re logged in, you can begin using ChatGPT. Use the text box at the bottom of the screen to type a prompt. This can be a question or a specific request. Press the paper airplane icon to submit.

ChatGPT will “type” out the response in real time. When it’s done, you can provide feedback with the thumbs up and down buttons.
ChatGPT response.
Each prompt kicks off a conversation. You can enter follow-up prompts or change the subject entirely. It will remember what you’re talking about.
ChatGPT follow up question.
If you don’t think the response was good enough, you can simply ask it to try again.
ChatGPT try again.
You can also tell ChatGPT when it’s incorrect about something. (I made it say something false about Tom Hanks.)
Correcting ChatGPT.
You can bookmark the website to quickly come back to it in the future.
RELATED: 8 Surprising Things You Can Do With ChatGPT
ChatGPT can now browse the web, and it also supports plugins. For example, with web browsing, ChatGPT can find up-to-date information for you online rather than being limited to knowledge from 2021. Plugins connect ChatGPT to external services. For example, with plugins, ChatGPT can perform calculations using Wolfram, make restaurants with OpenTable, or order groceries with Instacart.
As of May 2023, you will need ChatGPT Plus to access web browsing and plugins, but all ChatGPT Plus subscribers can turn on these features. Here’s how to turn on and use Web Browsing and Plugins in ChatGPT.
RELATED: How to Enable ChatGPT’s Web Browsing and Plugins
ChatGPT is extremely popular, and it’s still just a research project. You may not always be able to use ChatGPT if a lot of other people are also using the service at the moment. You will see a message saying “ChatGPT is at capacity right now” if you can’t use it. To fix this error, you may want to come back later—or you could perhaps just refresh the page in your web browser and it may work.
If this is an issue for you, paying $20 per month for ChatGPT Plus will get you priority access so you can use ChatGPT even when it’s under a heavy load.
You may also see errors in your conversations while using ChatGPT, like a “network error” message. This can sometimes be caused by a problem with your network (for example, an internet connection problem, Wi-Fi issue, or a VPN problem), but it may also be a problem with ChatGPT’s servers. In some cases, requesting a very long response from ChatGPT may result in an error. You may be prompted to request another response from ChatGPT or try reloading the page.
If other web pages are working properly but you’re experiencing errors with ChatGPT, it may be an issue with lots of people trying to use it—step away from ChatGPT and try it again later, or consider paying for ChatGPT plus for priority access.
Thankfully, ChatGPT conversations are automatically saved to your OpenAI account. You can access past conversations from the sidebar menu. Every time you start a new conversation, it’s added to the list.
On desktop, the sidebar is already expanded. Click a conversation to read it again or continue chatting. Conversations are named based on the first prompt you entered.
Conversation in the sidebar.
In a mobile browser, you’ll need to tap the hamburger menu in the top left to expand the sidebar.

The sidebar menu is also where you can clear your conversation list. Simply select “Clear Conversations” toward the bottom of the menu.
Select "Clear Conversations."
That’s all there is to it. Your ChatGPT conversations are saved to your OpenAI account, so wherever you can log in, you’ll be able to see them.
“GPT” stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer.” A GPT is a language model that uses deep learning to generate human-like text in response to a prompt. The “Chat” part of the name comes from being a chatbot.
ChatGPT Plus is a subscription plan for $20 per month. It includes reliable availability when demand is high, faster response speeds, and priority access to new features like plugins. It also now gives you access to GPT-4, which is a more capable model that will often give better results. Power users may benefit from the Plus features.
OpenAI says it does not save data from individual interactions with ChatGPT for its own use. When you have conversations with ChatGPT, your input is processed to generate a response, and your conversation is saved in your account. But once you delete your account, the conversation is gone forever.
OpenAI now offers an official ChatGPT app for iPhone, and an Android app is on the way. The ChatGPT website does also work well in a mobile browser on a smartphone. You can use the ChatGPT website in your browser on iPhone, iPad, and Android. Due to its popularity, there are many fake ChatGPT apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. That said, some apps like Petey for Apple Watch will legitimately let you access the chatbot through ChatGPT’s API.
ChatGPT can only be as accurate and honest as the material it analyzes. The accuracy of its responses is similar to how accurate you would be after reading an article online. ChatGPT can only tell you what it has read. It cannot tell you if it is accurate in the same way an expert with decades of experience could. It’s the difference between “I read a bunch of articles about plumbing” and “I’m a master plumber, and I can answer that question with authority.”
ChatGPT is not up to date on current events. At the time of writing, the dataset of the current version of ChatGPT only goes up to 2021. ChatGPT is not currently connected to the internet and does not “absorb” new information in real time. ChatGPT will be able to access information on the web with plugins.
There’s nothing stopping you from plugging questions from your homework into ChatGPT. However, you probably don’t want to do that. ChatGPT is often wrong because it was trained on text from the internet. It’s very good at sounding authoritative about something, but it could be completely wrong. You would need to do a lot of fact-checking to ensure accuracy. Not to mention it is most certainly a direct violation of your school or university’s academic integrity policies.
That’s the story on ChatGPT! You’re free to go wild and ask any question you’d like. ChatGPT will do its best to answer the question, but if it can’t, it will explain why. Here are some surprising uses for ChatGPT to get you started. Keep in mind that ChatGPT is using information from the internet, and the internet is not always accurate. Don’t take everything ChatGPT says as fact. It’s very often not.
You may be seeing more of ChatGPT and similar AIs in search engines soon. Microsoft has a Bing AI chat feature based on the same GPT-4 model that ChatGPT Plus is built on, while Google’s Bard chatbot, which uses its Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) technology, is now available. There are also several alternatives to ChatGPT you can try right now.
RELATED: 8 Surprising Things You Can Do With ChatGPT
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