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What are ChatGPT plugins, and how to use them?

Plugins open up third-party integration straight into ChatGPT, letting you do more with AI.
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Published onDecember 28, 2023

AI is the talk of the town these days, and ChatGPT gets a fair share of credit for making that happen. People have found creative uses for generative AI tools, using ChatGPT to write resumes, code, and even play chess. If you are looking to level up your AI skills, you need to explore ChatGPT plugins that let you do even more things than were possible before. But what exactly are ChatGPT plugins, and how can you use them? We answer these questions and more in this article.

QUICK ANSWER

ChatGPT plugins are tools developed by third-party developers that lets ChatGPT access their APIs. This lets AI tap into newer use cases, letting you do actions that rely on these third parties.

To use a plugin in ChatGPT, you need to be a ChatGPT Plus subscriber. Once subscribed, switch to GPT-4 model, and install the plugin of your choice from the plugin store within ChatGPT. Next, open a new conversation and use your written prompt to automatically or manually invoke the installed plugin to help with your answer.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

What are ChatGPT plugins?

ChatGPT stock photo 7

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, describes its plugins as “tools that help ChatGPT access up-to-date information, run computations, or use third-party services.” Essentially, plugins connect ChatGPT to external, third-party applications, letting the AI interact with these third-party APIs to perform a wide range of actions.

With ChatGPT plugins, you can:

  • Retrieve real-time information, like live sports scores, stock prices, the latest news, etc.
  • Retrieve knowledge-based information, like company documentation, personal notes, etc.
  • Do external actions like booking a flight, ordering food, buying groceries, etc.

Since plugins are intended to hook into third-party tools and services by design, they are not activated by default. Users must manually locate, install and activate the relevant plugin before using it within ChatGPT.

How to sign up for ChatGPT plugins

chatgpt plus

Since we are in the early development stages of ChatGPT plugins, plugin access is also restricted to ChatGPT Plus users only for now. There used to be a waitlist for developers who want to develop plugins (who are now directed to create Actions inside of a GPT), while non-paying users cannot access plugins nor join a waitlist.

Here is how to get access to ChatGPT plugins:

  • As a user: You will have to subscribe to ChatGPT Plus to get access to plugins.
  • As a plugin developer: OpenAI is no longer accepting new plugins. Instead, developers are guided to create Actions inside of a GPT.

How to install ChatGPT plugins

Bing, ChatGPT, and SoundHound Chat AI icons on an Android homescreen

Once you get access to ChatGPT plugins, either as a ChatGPT Plus subscriber or as a plugin developer, you can install a plugin.

First, you need to enable plugins as a feature. Here is how:

  • Open ChatGPT.
  • Click on the three-dot menu in the bottom left corner and navigate to Settings > Beta Features.
  • Toggle the Plugins setting to on.

Next, you can install plugins from the Plugin Store.

  • Within ChatGPT, select New chat in the top left corner.
  • Switch the ChatGPT model to GPT-4. This gives you access to an advanced version of the AI tool that can do even more.
  • Click on the button directing you to the Plugin store.
  • Click OK on the disclaimer prompt on plugins. As noted, plugins are powered by third-party applications that OpenAI does not control.
  • Now, select the ChatGPT plugin you want to install from the store.

And that’s it. The installation happens within your ChatGPT account, not your computer or browser. So once the plugin is installed, it remains available within all of your future ChatGPT conversations until you uninstall it.

You can install multiple plugins for your conversation and use cases as needed.

Note that there is currently no easy way to figure out your installed plugins. You will need to remember the plugins you have installed when you want to uninstall them. Further, there is no search tool available in the Plugin Store at the moment, so it is a bit of a task finding the exact plugin that you need.

How to use ChatGPT plugins

Using a ChatGPT plugin is a seamless task. You have to continue writing your prompts as you did before, as ChatGPT automatically chooses when to use plugins during a conversation. If you have multiple plugins installed, you will likely get better results if you specify when and which plugin to invoke during the prompt.

For example, you can install the WolframAlpha plugin in ChatGPT to get more scientific results for your prompts. You can then use ChatGPT for complex math problems that it previously could not execute, like solving equations graphically or using it to solve word puzzles.

Here is how ChatGPT can solve a complex algorithmic problem with the help of the WolframAlpha plugin:

You can also use plugins like Expedia to have ChatGPT help you plan a trip and then integrate it with OpenTable to go along and make restaurant reservations for you along the way. Or, with the Instacart plugin installed, you can look up a recipe on ChatGPT and then ask it to order the ingredients for you.

As you can see, the possibilities with AI and ChatGPT were already vast, but plugins take it even further. Third-party integration lets you use AI where you couldn’t before, transforming ChatGPT from a tool by itself to a platform that can leverage even more tools to do more complex tasks. Considering we are still in the beta phase of both AI and ChatGPT’s plugins, one can only imagine the potential that the future holds.


FAQs

Several ChatGPT plugins are already available, and many more are under active development. You can expect the number of available plugins to grow steadily.

ChatGPT plugins are free so far, but you need to pay for a ChatGPT Plus subscription to use them. Plugins are free to use within ChatGPT for now, but some plugins may incorporate monetization models in the future.

OpenAI does not disclose more details about ChatGPT’s plugin waitlist. The waitlist is closed for average users and is open only to developers. You will have a better chance of getting access if you answer the questionnaire honestly.