How to use ChatGPT

[This article has been updated: Jump to the latest update]

OpenAI shook the world with its unveiling of ChatGPT. This is an extremely powerful AI chatbot that’s been wowing people with how intelligent it is. It’s so powerful that it made Google declare a code red and develop its own chatbot called Bard (later renamed to Gemini). If you’re looking to use ChatGPT and see what the buzz is all about, here’s a handy guide on how to use it.

First off, what is ChatGPT?

It wouldn’t make sense to know how to use something if you don’t know what it is. So, as stated before, ChatGPT is an AI chatbot. The best way to describe is that it’s like a digital human being that you either ask questions to or talk with. You can ask it for answers to questions like “how do I declaw a cat?” or “How many moons does Jupiter have?”. The chatbot will actually give you concise answers to those questions.

ChatGPT’s utility doesn’t stop there, as you’re able to type a myriad of commands into it and get results. Here are a few examples of what you can type into the prompt:

  • How to do stuff: How do I swaddle a baby?
  • Advice: Give me advice on how to get my child to study.
  • Recipes: Give me a recipe for a healthy burger.
  • General knowledge questions: What are the mitochondria?
  • Writing code: Write me code for an app that tells time.
  • Writing articles: Write me a 2000-word article about the Galaxy S23’s camera.
  • Writing stories/poems: Write me a story about a mean kid who gets his just deserts.
  • Just to chat: My dog just died, and I need someone to talk to.

Looking at some of those examples, it’s no wonder why Google has taken notice. We covered everything you need to know about ChatGPT, so you can check out that article if you have more questions about what it can do.

How to use ChatGPT

So, the first thing that you need to know about ChatGPT is that you’ll need to create an account. You can either create an account through OpenAI or sign in through Google or Microsoft. After you create your account, you’ll be taken right into the action.

The landing page is pretty simple, but it gives you what you need to get started. The first thing you might notice is the grid of cards in the middle of the screen. They give you a rough idea of what ChatGPT can do. They will give you suggestions of what to input, some of what ChatGPT can do, and what it can’t.

You’ll see a dark gray panel on the left side of the screen. This will house your previous conversations. Below them, you’ll see the option to clear your conversations, upgrade to Plus, toggle Dark mode, and give feedback to the company. There’s also a button that will send you to the Updates and FAQs page and the log-out button.

Using ChatGPT

Last, but certainly not least, we have the text field on the bottom center of the screen; the face of ChatGPT. Here, you can type in the command that you want to input. All you have to do is type in your text and press the enter button. Also, you can click on the arrow button on the right side of the text field to send it.

When you send your request, you’ll see your profile picture appear at the top of the screen with a gray bar extending across. This is where ChatGPT will display its answer. You’ll see a little blinking cursor at first. Now, it will take ChatGPT a few seconds to start answering your question. When it starts, you’ll see the text gradually populating the screen.

Right under the answer given, you’ll see a thumbs-up and a thumbs-down button. These are important, as they gives feedback on how you like the answer. Giving feedback on the answer will help OpenAI improve ChatGPT.

Also, if you don’t like the answer, you can regenerate it. Right above the text box, there’s a Regenerate response button. When you do it, the chatbot will give you a different answer based on the prompt.

Now, since ChatGPT is a chatbot, you’re able to talk back and forth with it as though it was a person. This means that you can follow up on the answer and give suggestions as to what you want to change. The bot will then make the appropriate change and update it. You can actually type as though you’re talking to a human being.

ChatGPT variations

New chats/erasing old chats

If you’re having a conversation with a person, you’ll want to signal when you’re changing to a different topic to avoid confusion. Well, the same thing applies to ChatGPT. If you want to start a conversation about something, you’ll want to make a new conversation.

To do that, look at the panel on the left. Above your conversations, you’ll see the New Chat button. Click it and you will see a blank canvas to start a new conversation. If you want to go back to the previous conversations you had, don’t worry, the program will automatically save your previous chat. You’ll be able to return to it and pick up right where you left off.

If you’re done with a conversation, and you want to get rid of it, you can quickly do so. Go to the left panel and move your mouse over the conversation you want to give the boot. Click on the little trash can icon on the right side of the button. When you click on it, you’ll see a little checkmark and “X” icon appear. If you’re sure that you want to delete that conversation, click on the checkmark.

Disabling the chat history

This is a more recent change to ChatGPT. OpenAI recently gave people the ability to manage whether ChatGPT can keep a log of their chats or not.

In order to disable this, click on your profile picture on the bottom left of your UI. On the popup menu that appears, click on the Settings button. You’ll see the settings box appear in the middle of the screen. On the left of the popup, click on the Data Controls button.

At the top of the UI, you’ll see the Chat History & Training section. Click on the toggle to disable the chat history function. If you disable it, your chats will not be cataloged and they will not be used to train the model. Your chats will be saved to OpenAI’s servers and retained for 30 days before being deleted.

Using custom instructions

When you make a new conversation using ChatGPT, you’re starting with a blank slate. This means that you’ll need to explain the context of what you’re generating every time you make a new conversation.

However, if you use the custom instructions, you can have ChatGPT remember information about you for each conversation. So, when you start a new conversation, ChatGPT will already know what to steer the conversation towards.

In order to use this, go to your settings and find the Custom Instructions section. There, you’ll be able to narrow down the chatbot’s responses by putting in some information. The first question will ask you to tell ChatGPT about you. Tell it relative information like your job, hobby, etc. For example, if you’re a teacher, tell it that and tell it what grade you teach. It will tailor its responses to a person who teaches kids at that age.

Next, tell ChatGPT how you want it to respond. Do you want it to give advice or guidance? Should it be long-winded or short and sweet? Describe how you want your answers.

Tagging custom GPTs

[Updated Jan 31st, 2024] ChatGPT now gives you the ability to tag other GPTs in a conversation. This lets you use another custom GPT’s expertise in a conversation. It eliminates the need to start a completely new conversation with a specific GPT.

Say, you’re using ChatGPT proper, and you want to call on a GPT that specializes in accounting. Instead of starting a fresh conversation with an accounting GPT and explaining all of the context, you’ll be able to tag that GPT in the conversation you’re already having. This way, you can keep the whole conversation in one place. This feature is only for ChatGPT Plus users.

Enabling multi-factor authentication

[Updated March 11th, 2024] ChatGPT now allows you to make your account more secure using multi-factor authentication. To enable this, download an authenticator app from the Google Play Store or the iOS store. Then go to the ChatGPT site and access your settings. You’ll see the new Multi-factor authentication section. Tap on the Enable button.

On the next page, you’ll see a QR code and a text field. Scan the QR code using your authenticator app, and it will add ChatGPT to your home screen. There, you’ll see a six-digit code. Type that code into the text field. The code will reset every 30 seconds, so be sure to enter the most current code.

On the next page, you’ll see a recovery code. You’ll use the recovery code when you’re trying to sign into your account when you don’t have access to your authenticator app. Make sure you store the recovery code in a secure location you have access to.

[Updated Jan, 2024] Using the app

In case you don’t know, you can access ChatGPT from the mobile app. It’s available on both the Google Play Store and the iOS App Store. It’s free to download and use and you can easily sign in with your ChatGPT account.

Using the app is just like using the website. When you open the app, you’ll have access to all of the conversations that you started on the website. To access your conversations, tap on the hamburger-style menu at the top left of the screen or simply swipe right. You’ll see them all listed in the side panel.

In the side panel, you’ll also see the search bar so that you can easily through your conversations. Under that, you’ll see the option to explore the GPTs that you can use. Just know that you’ll need to have a ChatGPT Plus subscription in order to use them.

At the bottom of the panel, you’ll see your profile. tapping on that will bring up your settings. These include all of the settings that you have access to on the website.

Export ChatGPT data mobile 5Export ChatGPT data mobile 5
App home screen

Using ChatGPT as your voice assistant

This is for Android users. Using the latest beta version of the app (at the time of writing this article), you’ll be able to give ChatGPT its own tile on your Quick Settings panel. All you have to do is join the beta program if you haven’t yet. When you do that, you’ll get an update to the app. After that, just assign the tile to where you want it in your Quick Settings.

You’ll be able to tap on the tile and start speaking into the app. Tapping on the Quick Settings tile won’t open the app. Rather, the ChatGPT voice assistant will display over the screen you have open.  Essentially, it can act as your Google Assistant replacement, only you won’t be able to summon it with a hot word.

Also, when you make a query to ChatGPT through the voice assistant, the app will save it as a conversation in the app. So, you can open the app and continue that conversation just like any other.

Using the Memory feature

ChatGPT has the ability to remember details about you if you want it to. It will retain this information so you don’t have to constantly reiterate it. For example, if you tell it that you’re allergic to peanuts, it will remember this, even if you start a new conversation.

Then, if you start a conversation, and it revolves around food, the bot will know what you’re allergic to, so it will be able to recommend recipes that don’t involve peanuts. That’s just one example of how this feature could be helpful.

In order to use this feature, simply tell ChatGPT something about yourself. It will automatically remember that information. In the next response, you’ll see a little indicator button letting you know that the memory was saved. If you want to manage your saved memories, you’ll just need to click on that indicator button. A pop-up will appear with all of your saved memories. Click on the Delete button to delete the memories you don’t want to keep.

Using the desktop app

As of spring 2024, only people using Mac computers can use the ChatGPT desktop application. However, the application will make it to Windows users by the end of the year.

The ChatGPT desktop application is pretty bare-bones, and it’s similar to the website. It’s basically a blank space with a text field at the bottom. You have the same functionality as the website. After you type your query, you will see the responses pop up in the blank space. If you want to summon the panel with your conversations and options, you will click on the little icon at the top of the interface next to the ChatGPT text. This will give you access to more options just like on the website. Also, you’ll be able to choose which model you’re using at the top of the interface as well.

Using the app negates your have to go to the website when you want to access ChatGPT. However, it’s not that functionality that this application has that definitely makes it worth it.

Using the application gives you a quick shortcut to the ChatGPT text bar. To quickly access it, you will use the Options + Space shortcut. When you do that, you’ll see a small floating text bar. You’ll be able to access this no matter what screen you are on. So, you won’t even have to open the full app to be able to use ChatGPT. Simply do that command, and you will be able to type whatever you want into the bar.

Using the application, if you select text, and use the Command + C shortcut, the text will automatically be copied into ChatGPT. So, if you need it to analyze a section of text for you, you will be able to do so very quickly and easily.

As of May 2024, The voice functionality is not available. However, it will be made available sometime down the line. Using the voice feature, you’ll be able to speak directly to ChatGPT. So, after you click on the microphone icon, you will be able to speak to it and forgo typing.

This basically makes ChatGPT a chat assistant on your computer.

ChatGPT desktopChatGPT desktop

What is ChatGPT Plus?

Now, ChatGPT has a paid tier, but you don’t have to pay to use the chatbot. The Plus subscription offers more features to people who are avid users. With the payment plan, you’ll have priority access to new features when they drop.

When there are a ton of people using ChatGPT at the same time, free users may lose access to it until the traffic dies down. If you have a Plus account, you’ll have access to it whenever even when demand is high.

Lastly, you’ll have access to faster processing speeds. This means that you’ll get your answers faster. If you want to have these features, then it will cost you $20/month.

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