How to use ChatGPT in the real world and join the AI revolution

How YOU can harness ChatGPT without being a tech whiz: From applying for jobs to choosing a weight-loss program, our easy step-by-step guide walks you through the powers of the AI

  • ChatGPT can summarise documents, write reports and create recipes
  • It’s free to use and easy to access from PC or smartphone
  • READ MORE: We test out GPT-4 and it’s astounding 

ChatGPT launched last November and has taken the world by storm, unlike any other technology since the dawn of the smartphone.

You have probably seen examples on social media of the AI giving eerily human responses to obscure prompts — but the chatbot can actually be used to carry out a large number of basic daily tasks that could save you time — and money.

It is easy (and free) to use ChatGPT and can be used to do anything from writing work reports to creating diet plans and helping you apply for jobs. 

So whether you want to use it on a desktop, tablet or cellphone, walks you through it with a step-by-step tutorial below:  

There’s a subscription option, but you don’t have to pay to use ChatGPT

Getting started 

ChatGPT (it stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a ‘large language model’ which can produce convincing, human-like answers to almost any question.

There is no mobile or desktop applications for the chatbot at present (be warned, there are a lot of fake apps claiming to be ChatGPT, so sidestep these at all costs).

Instead, you access it via your browser — Chrome, for example — on a phone, desktop PC or Mac via creator OpenAI’s website — which you can visit here. 

To use it, you’ll need to set up an OpenAI account. The easiest way to do this is to sign in with a Google account, but you can also opt to set up your own email and password.

Either way, you will need to authenticate via a cellphone number – this will then be linked to that OpenAI account (and you won’t be able to set up further accounts with that number).

Once you’ve done so, you can use that account to log in either on your smart device or on PC or Mac (bookmark the page if you want to at this point).

The difference between free and paid accounts 

Be aware that there is huge demand for ChatGPT right now, so the service occasionally goes down.

But ChatGPT usually composes a poem or an advert script about being down, so at least the error message is entertaining. 

To guarantee access at any time, you can opt to pay for a $20 ChatGPT Plus monthly subscription, but you don’t need to do so.

Those with a plus membership have the option of faster response times, priority access to new features, and can even access it during peak times when it is down for others. 

Once you’re ‘in’, you’re greeted by blank chat box where you can type – this is where you can interact with ChatGPT. 

How to give it prompts: the basics 

Although the technology underlying ChatGPT can deal with inputs in the form of images (so, for instance, it can say what’s funny about an image), the current ChatGPT version can’t yet do this, so you have to ‘converse’ with ChatGPT via text.

It’s designed to respond to ‘normal’ language, so the best way to communicate it is as if you’re chatting to a person online rather than using computer commands.

For example, ask the app, ‘Tell me a joke about toothbrushes’ and it will do so. But, be warned, the jokes aren’t always great. 

ChatGPT can understand long and detailed prompts, so for example, if you’re getting it to write an email, you can specify, ‘in a polite and businesslike fashion’, and it will alter the style of the text to fit. 

Or you can specify a specific word count or audience – for example, ‘make it so a five-year-old could understand’.

If you need text in a specific format (for example, a cover letter, email, Tweet or similar) ChatGPT will happily output text in that format.

Just as examples, these are inputs ChatGPT will understand.

Explain what is inside a black hole in terms a 10-year-old could understand

Summarize the novel A Tale of Two Cities in 10 20-word bullet points

Write a polite but firm letter to City Hall complaining about air pollution

Write a series of increasingly angry Tweets in the style of Elon Musk

Write lyrics in the style of Dolly Parton about a talking Alsatian who runs away

You can also ask follow-up questions or sustain a dialogue on a particular subject.

What ChatGPT CAN’T do

ChatGPT can offer advice on a lot of topics, but it’s best to stick to general advice rather than asking questions about recent events.

It has limited knowledge of events after 2021, so it won’t be great on (for example) stock market advice or what movie to catch at the theatre this weekend. 

If you get the ChatGPT bug, you can upgrade the underlying model to OpenAI’s GPT-4 (ChatGPT normally runs on GPT 3.5) by taking out a ChatGPT Plus subscription.

GPT-4 has several functions GPT-3 doesn’t, but many of these are not available via ChatGPT as yet.

The reason you might want to upgrade is that GPT-4 is better at creative tasks (for example writing essays or scripts) but it’s still marginal and GPT 3.5 is perfect for most everyday tasks.

Eleven ways YOU can harness the bot:

1. Help get your dream job 

ChatGPT can help you with everything from writing a resume to answering tricky interview questions.

It can take an existing resume and offer tips on how to improve it, or offer general tips for writing a new one.

Try pasting your resume in text form and asking for tips on how to improve it (it changed mine to highlight skills, as well as roles).

Or write a prompt with the job you hope to land and ask for tips on how to present your resume.

ChatGPT wrote a ‘skills and expertise’ panel to add to my CV

ChatGPT can offer a lot of help with job applications

Prepare for a job interview with ChatGPT

2. Write life’s tricky emails instantly 

Struggling to write a cover letter or an awkward work email? ChatGPT can do it instantly.

Write a prompt explaining who the email is from and to and what you need to say – whether it is to request a sick day or to complain about something.

It can even generate excuses for not getting to work on time.

If you find certain emails hard to write, ChatGPT has your back

3. Lose weight with a new diet plan 

ChatGPT is great at generating diet plans and exercise regimes to fit your needs.

You can specify calorie counts and rule in and out different kinds of foods to suit your tastes.

ChatGPT is equally adept at developing exercise plans that can help maximize your weight loss.

ChatGPT can come up with diets to meet very specific requirements

4. Learn basic skills step by step

ChatGPT can teach a huge number of basic skills, including coding (it’s particularly good at this, as it can code itself).

But if you’re learning anything, ChatGPT is very good at highlighting the basics.

Write a prompt asking for ‘basic tips’ or a ‘starting lesson’, and ChatGPT will do the rest.

ChatGPT can teach many basic skills

5. Summarize long documents instantly

ChatGPT can digest very long documents in seconds – either as direct text input, or if you ask it to summarize a well-known text.

If you’re writing a report at work, it’s a great shortcut.

Specify how you want ChatGPT to output the results – ie, ‘in bullet points’ or ‘in 250 words’ and hey presto, you’ve got a neat summary.

ChatGPT is great for summarizing long documents, or even novels

6. Summarize that book you were meant to have read

ChatGPT is great at summarizing classic novels (though it is unaware of events after 2021, so it won’t be able to do the latest bestsellers).

Just write a prompt specifying the information you need – ie do you need to know what happens in the book, or what it means, or why people think it’s important?

ChatGPT can summarise novels rapidly

7. Create recipes to suit your mood 

Struggling for dinner inspiration? ChatGPT has your back. The bot can come up with recipes on demand.

If you want inspiration, specify the ingredients you want to use (or already have) and let ChatGPT do the rest.

ChatGPT generated a person recipe for a Mediterranean salad

8. Explain complex ideas in simple terms

Teaching kids – or struggling with something yourself? Just ask ChatGPT for help.

The bot is very good at summarizing anything financial, scientific or otherwise complex – just be aware it won’t be so great on news topics as its knowledge of current events is limited.

ChatGPT is good at summarizing complex ideas

9. Create budget plans 

ChatGPT is great at offering basic financial advice and can tailor its advice for you.

Use it to set budgets, devise savings plans and offer tips on how to build that nest egg.

However, it will not be able to tell you which stocks are best to purchase right now because it is generally unaware of current events. 

ChatGPT is great at budget plans

10. Find you a date with a persuasive profile

ChatGPT will happily suggest dating profile text based on your age and likes – and on Tinder, people claim it gets results.

One Tinder user has claimed a ChatGPT-written response got him a match’s phone number in less than an hour.

Others use the bot to respond to messages on the site, generating ‘perfect’ answers as they go.

Chat GPT wrote out a potential bio to use for app-based matchmaking services such as Tinder and Bumble

11. Roleplay difficult conversations before you have them 

ChatGPT is happy to play roles if you ask it to – and if you’re worried about a job interview, it can come up with typical questions.

To get the best results, input the role you’re looking for and your experience into the prompt.

The AI app can help a person prepare for a job by roleplaying as an interviewer

ChatGPT fast facts – what you need to know 

It’s a chatbot built on a large language model which can output human-like text and understand complex queries

It launched on November 30, 2022

By January 2023, it had 100 million users – faster than TikTok or Instagram

The company behind it is OpenAI

OpenAI secured a $10 billion investment from Microsoft

Other ‘big tech’ companies such as Google have their own rivals such as Google’s Bard

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