How to access, install, and use AI ChatGPT-4 plugins (and why you should)

How to access, install, and use AI ChatGPT-4 plugins (and why you should)
Written by Techbot
ChatGPT-4 on phone with OpenAI logo and coding in background
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ChatGPT is more popular than ice cream on a hot summer day. Getting the most out of it, however, is hard. Recently, OpenAI added plugins to the paid version of the service, ChatGPT Plus, and it’s become easier to get useful information out of ChatGPT-4 than ever.

ChatGPT plugins are AI chatbot enhancements that augment what it can do. For example, the Kayak and Expedia plugins can answer real-time travel questions. These plugins are found in the ChatGPT plugins store. 

Also: GPT-3.5 vs GPT-4: Is ChatGPT Plus worth its subscription fee?

While OpenAI created a few of these, the vast majority are written by third-party developers. All of the ChatGPT plugins are designed to work with GPT-4; they can’t work with the free ChatGPT-3.5 system. Today, there are 263 plugins, with more being added daily. 

These plugins offer many services. They can help you write superior ChatGPT prompts, assist you in making restaurant reservations, provide financial advice, and deliver timely links to AI-enabled astrology forecasts. For now, you can use all the plugins for free. That will change. 

Keep in mind, though, that ChatGPT plugins and ChatGPT extensions are not the same thing. The ChatGPT Chrome extensions, such as WebChatGPT and Compose AI, make it easier to use any version of ChatGPT with the Chrome web browser. 

Also: How to use ChatGPT: Everything you need to know

Plugins add more search capabilities to the chatbot and integrate it with third-party services. Extensions, like any Chrome extensions, are just added via the Chrome Web Store. Plugins are trickier. Here’s how you find and install them. 

How to install ChatGPT-4 plugins

What you’ll need: A ChatGPT Plus account, a computer, and an internet connection.

To access the new features, you must subscribe to ChatGPT Plus. To do this, log in to your ChatGPT account and click the Upgrade to Plus button in the bottom left corner. Enter your payment information and pay a recurring fee of $20/month. After your first payment, you get immediate access to your new features.

Beta features are switched off by default. To turn them on, click the three dots next to your username in the bottom left corner and select Settings.

Click the Beta features tab in the Settings menu. Click the slider buttons next to Browse with Bing and plugins to enable access to ChatGPT’s Browse with Bing and plugin features. 

Also: How does ChatGPT actually work? 

Exit the Settings to start using ChatGPT’s new features.

How to use ChatGPT Browse with Bing

ChatGPT Browse with Bing and ChatGPT plugins are separate features. But, the Browse with Bing feature is useful, and I must mention it as well. 

Also: How to use Bing Chat (and how it’s different from ChatGPT)

It does exactly what it says. Instead of being limited to data from September 2021 and earlier in ChatGPT, you can access current information. This is a real difference-maker. Here’s how to use the Browse with Bing feature. 

1. Select your AI model and feature

Start a new chat in ChatGPT. In the top middle of the screen, you have the option to use GPT-3.5 or the more advanced GPT-4 model. Hover over the GPT-4 button, and the browsing beta option will appear. Click it to select it.

Pick Your ChatGPT-4 Model
Screenshot by Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNET

2. Write your prompt 

Use ChatGPT as usual. The Browse with Bing feature is best when you have a question or query that requires recent information or data. For example, ask about the latest news on a specific topic, such as the performance of a company’s stock, or the score of a recent game.

3. Browse the results

Behind the scenes, ChatGPT does the browsing for you, providing accurate, relevant, timely, and cited information. 

Also: How to make ChatGPT provide sources and citations

Click on each citation number to be transported to the webpage where ChatGPT found its information.

How to use ChatGPT plugins

To get started with these third-party plugins, follow these steps. 

1. Select your AI model and feature 

Start a new chat and hover over the GPT-4 option at the top. Click on the plugins option.

2. Go to the plugin store

Click the drop-down arrow under the GPT-4 button. A button will appear to access the plugin store. Here you can browse through a list of ChatGPT plugins. 

Also: I asked ChatGPT to write a WordPress plugin I need. It did it in less than 5 minutes

If you find one you want to try, click the green Install button next to it. After it’s installed, you can access it whenever you want from the same menu. 

ChatGPT-4 Plugin Store
Screenshot by Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNET

3. Explore the plugins

Browse and test the plugins to find out which ones are best for your needs. If you don’t like something, it’s as simple as a quick uninstall. New plugins are added each day, so check back at the plugin store regularly.

Here, I’m fooling around with the Kayak plugin and Vancouver waterfront hotels. 

ChatGPT-4 KAYAK plugin
Screenshot by Steven Vaughan-Nichols/ZDNET


What are the caveats of ChatGPT-4 plugins?

  • These are all beta, and boy, does that show sometimes. Sometimes they’ll get you painfully wrong answers. Other times, the plugins will fail.
  • There’s currently a hard limit on how many plugins you can have active at once. You can switch them out, but at any given time, only up to three can work.
  • For now, you can only browse the web or use a plugin. You can’t do both at the same time. Some of the plugins duplicate web access in their functionality, so that’s not as big a deal as it might first appear.
  • Keep in mind, when you use plugins, you’re still limited to ChatGPT-4’s 25 queries every three hours. Once you pass that threshold, you’re dumped back to ChatGPT 3.5. So, before starting your session, before very clear about what you’re trying to achieve.  
  • This is a brand new kind of software, and OpenAI states no plugin can be used for malware, scams, or spreading misinformation. And, neither can it be used to circumvent or interfere with OpenAI’s safety systems, that doesn’t mean that this couldn’t happen. User beware!

How to use ChatGPT-4 plugins

Once installed, you simply choose to use the model with them activated. That’s all there is to it. Under the hood, the ChatGPT application programming interfaces (API)s are being invoked, but you don’t have to worry about the tech details. Just write your prompt and go. 

Also: ChatGPT: Who’s using the AI tool and why?

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can unlock the full potential of ChatGPT Plus. Remember, as with any tool, the onus is on you to verify the accuracy of the information provided. Even the most advanced ChatGPT-4 and plugins are still susceptible to making mistakes. Good luck, and happy exploring!

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