How to Use ChatGPT for Free (4 Easy Steps) –

ChatGPT is a free AI assistant that can revolutionize how you work.
Whatever you want, ChatGPT will be quick to tell you, and all in the same calm, verbose, slightly dull tone of an encyclopedia. But the tool is a people pleaser. It’s happy to make up a false reality, if it thinks that’s what you want.
How can you drill down into the benefits of ChatGPT, all without tripping over the pitfalls of the service? Here, we’ll cover how the free tool is designed to work, what you can do with it, and all the best ways to phrase your prompts so that ChatGPT actually helps you.
In this guide:
ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool that users can interact with just like they would chat with a friend over a text-based platform like Slack or Facebook Messenger. The tool was first launched in November 2022.
The “chat” part of the name is because the program is a chatbot, capable of interacting with a user through a back-and-forth text-based discussion. The rest of the name stands for “Generative Pre-trained Transformer.” This mouthful of a phrase refers to the large language model that powers the program.
The tool uses a predictive model to guess what response would make the most sense based on the commands that you give it. Users can use it to help plan out a vacation, create a shopping list, or code a website.
“While we have safeguards in place, the system may occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information and produce offensive or biased content. It is not intended to give advice.” ~OpenAI
The service is free to use, although it does come with a premium tier for $20 per month. According to some estimates, the chatbot’s owner OpenAI might be paying as much as $700,000 per day to keep the tool operating. By keeping it free, OpenAI is able to continue collecting data that lets the company make even more money down the road.
The most recent version of the chatbot, GPT-4, came out in March 2023. It’s available on the ChatGPT website.
That’s it! You’ll be directed to the ChatGPT tool whenever you’re signed in, and you can start using it.
ChatGPT has one paid tier, in addition to the free version. It’s called ChatGPT Plus and costs $20 per month.
OpenAI cites three benefits to paying for ChatGPT Plus:
These benefits aren’t likely to be a huge deal for most users, so we’d recommend sticking with the free version. But if you’re really into the tool and you want to stay on the cutting edge of the technology, it’s there for you.
You need to understand what ChatGPT does before you can use it. A lot of people don’t.
The creator of popular Netflix anthology series Black Mirror, Charlie Booker, recently gave an interview discussing why ChatGPT can’t write an episode. His statement is one of the most concise explanations of what ChatGPT is designed to do:
“I’ve toyed around with ChatGPT a bit. The first thing I did was type ‘generate Black Mirror episode’ and it comes up with something that, at first glance, reads plausibly, but on second glance, is shit. Because all it’s done is look up all the synopses of Black Mirror episodes, and sort of mush them together.” ~Charlie Booker, Empire magazine
In other words, ChatGPT can synthesize existing content. Like all large language models, it can’t create something truly original or groundbreaking, because by definition it is only looking at what already exists.
It also has a limited context window, so it can’t take into account all the factors that a human might when considering the same prompt. It may even contradict itself over the course of several responses.
ChatGPT is good for:
ChatGPT is bad for:
The bottom line is that everything ChatGPT does should be taken with a grain of salt.
ChatGPT is like a really smart toddler. If you’ve ever heard a toddler try to tell you a joke before they’ve settled on a punchline, you’ve likely experienced the context-light word-assocation you can expect from generative AI like ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is a tool for predicting what a good response might be to a prompt. The more specific your prompt, the better the ChatGPT response.
Here a few guidelines to help you understand what the process of creating anything with ChatGPT should look like.
ChatGPT will respond conversationally to prompts like “How are you today?,” but what it really wants is to help you solve a problem. To guide ChatGPT towards realizing exactly what you want it to do, you should start your prompts with terms like “Write,” “Create,” “Generate,” or “Suggest.”
Do you want a technical tone? A poetic one? Say so. Adjectives are your friend here. You can even specify the exact writer whose style you’d like to emulate, from Phoebe Waller-Bridge to Aristotle.
ChatGPT can phrase its response as if it’s explaining the world to a five-year-old or a 1920s gold panner. If you need marketing copy for a specific product, you should mention the demographic information for the customer that you want to reach.
One odd quirk of ChatGPT is that it will laser-focus on a particular phrase if you put quotes around it. Asking its opinion on ‘honey bees’ will give you a more complex, honey bee-specific response than simply asking its opinion on honey bees.
ChatGPT needs to know the boundaries of what you want. You can tell it the number of words or the number of paragraphs you want in a response. Just saying “give me a concise overview” of a topic is an improvement over just saying “tell me about” a specific topic.
Once you get a response, you can finetune your original prompt to try for a better one. For instance, I find that adding “avoid using filler words” to the end of a prompt tends to improve the quality of a response.
ChatGPT isn’t the only generative AI available for all, even if it is the most well-known. We’ve covered the top alternatives to ChatGPT in the past. Here’s a quick look at the best.
GitHub Copilot is a text-based generative AI for coding. It’s free for students, teachers, and anyone maintaining an open-source project. Everyone else can try a free trial for 30 days, but will need to pay a subscription fee afterwards. Like ChatGPT, Copilot is a useful tool for creating new code or other simple coding tasks.
Google’s ChatGPT competitor Bard launched hot on the heels of its rival. It operates with a completely different language model, and comes with an extra benefit: While ChatGPT uses data entirely from 2021 and earlier, Bard can access up-to-the-minute data straight off the internet.
ChatSonic creates AI-generated images as well as text. Like Bard, it is connected to the internet, and it will even generate reference links to help users verify if it is telling the truth or not.
The bot can parse audio clips, using AI to write down what it thinks is being discussed. It’s a fast, pain-free way to turn an audio interview or conversation into a more useful format.
The free plan is capped at 30 minutes of audio at a time and a total of 300 minutes per month, but two paid plans expand on the amount of transcribing as well as adding extra features.
Jasper Chat is a tool aimed at the advertising and marketing wings of a business: It allows for business-oriented tasks like writing ads, social media posts, video scripts, and more. Sadly, this service is the only one listed here that isn’t entirely free: You’ll get just a 5-day free trial, with plans starting at $29 per month after that.
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Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, ‘Worlds Beyond Time,’ is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he’s hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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