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How to use ChatGPT for free: A step-by-step guide
Whether you need to write a resume or come up with a witty poem, ChatGPT is likely the best AI tool for the job. It can produce natural-sounding text that reads as if a human wrote it. And the best part? The chatbot is completely free to use, except for an optional ChatGPT Plus subscription that grants you slightly higher-quality responses. So without wasting any more time, here’s a quick guide on how to use ChatGPT and extract the most value out of it.
How to sign up for ChatGPT
Before you can use ChatGPT, you’ll need an OpenAI account. What’s OpenAI, you ask? It’s the San Francisco-based startup that created ChatGPT and DALL-E, the popular AI image generator. Luckily, creating an account doesn’t take much time. Here’s what you need to do:
- Navigate to the ChatGPT landing page (also pictured above).
- Tap or click on the Sign up button.
- In the next step, enter your email address and set a password. You can also opt to continue via your Google or Microsoft account for easier, password-less logins.
- On the next page, enter your name and birthday.
- Regardless of the option you chose in the third step, you’ll need to verify your phone number to use ChatGPT. While most online platforms only require email verification, ChatGPT asks for a valid phone number as well.
- Finally, accept the terms and conditions that tell you a bit about how ChatGPT works.
That’s it — you can now use ChatGPT for free with the newly created OpenAI account. If you ever need to return, you’ll need to manually navigate to chat.openai.com. ChatGPT doesn’t offer a mobile app, at least not yet. As for how to interact with the chatbot, keep reading for detailed instructions, including a few bonus tips.
How to use ChatGPT
Assuming you’ve followed the previous section, you should now have access to ChatGPT’s chat interface. As you can see in the screenshot above, it’s rather straightforward — a history bar hidden to the left and an empty text box at the bottom of your screen. The latter is where we’ll type our prompts and communicate with the chatbot.
ChatGPT’s main draw lies in its ability to engage in back-and-forth dialog like a human. So with that in mind, just enter whatever comes to your mind without shaping the query. You could start with a greeting, issue a command, or ask a question. Here are a few example prompts that I have used over the past few weeks:
- Explain retrograde and prograde motion in the context of space missions.
- Generate a poem about an AI chatbot that went rogue
- Write an email to a colleague asking if they’re free to schedule a meeting for this Thursday. I’d like to discuss the new client with them and talk about how we can meet their needs.
Once you get a response, you can also continue with a follow-up message. The bot will remember everything and reply with that context in mind. For example, ask ChatGPT to write an email in one prompt and then say something along the lines of “Please make it sound less formal”. Keep in mind that ChatGPT has a 4,096 character limit, which includes both your prompt and the chatbot’s response. That’s pretty generous for most cases, though.
OpenAI has trained the chatbot on billions of text samples, so it knows a lot about the world and can even speak multiple languages. However, it has a knowledge cut-off of 2021, so don’t expect accurate answers on current affairs.
ChatGPT also struggles with math questions, so you can’t really rely on it to do your homework. I’d personally recommend Wolfram Alpha instead as it can solve everything from basic quadratic equations to complex integrals.