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Tech Matters: How to use the GPT store

By Leslie Meredith - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jun 5, 2024

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Leslie Meredith

Did you know there’s now a store brimming with custom, free GPTs? OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, launched its store earlier this year as an open marketplace for customized GPTs. Each custom GPT is built on top of ChatGPT and programmed to do certain things like summarize a YouTube video by simply pasting in a link in the chat window and asking for a summary. You’ll find a hodgepodge of tools here — some by big names you’ll recognize such as Adobe, Canva and Kayak, as well as millions — yes, millions — of GPTs from individual creators.

The store is set up similarly to an app store, but I think it’s most like the Chrome Web Store because of its size and variety of makers. If you haven’t started using ChatGPT or one of its competitors, this may be a good place to start: You have a specific task to do, one that you likely do many times, and using a specialized GPT to do it will quickly reinforce the benefits of using it.

In fact, only 23% of Americans have used the chatbot, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in February, up from 18% in July 2023. Usage varies tremendously by age: 43% of adults under 30 have used ChatGPT, while only 6% of Americans 65 and up have used it, the research found. Despite the techy buzz, there is no reason why people of any age can’t use it. If you can ask a question or give a direction, you can become an efficient GPT user.

You will need an OpenAI account to access the GPT Store, and you can opt for either a free account with access to ChatGPT-3.5 and limited access to the new ChatGPT-4o or paid at $20 a month, which gives you access to ChatGPT-4 and ChatGPT-4o with the ability to upload documents and generate charts and graphs. Both types of accounts provide access to the store. Once you’ve set up your account, go to ChatGPT and look for “Explore GPTs” in the left-side navigation panel. That’s the entrance to the store.

Because there are so many GPTs available, identify what you want to do first and then look for the relevant category: Top Picks, Writing, Productivity, Research & Analysis, Education, Lifestyle and Programming. You can also see the top-ranked GPTs in each of these categories on the homepage. Click on one to take a closer look.

In the pop-up window for the GPT, you’ll find a description, number of ratings with an average score, a ranking and the number of conversations. These are important indicators to help you select the most reliable GPTs in a category. I’d stick with the top-ranked tools, along with the section of GPTs that were developed by the ChatGPT team (also listed on the homepage).

Like with any generative AI (artificial intelligence), keep your expectations reasonable. No GPT will be perfect, and some are much better than others. If you’re expecting to type in a prompt to have a GPT write a business proposal for you, you will be disappointed. First of all, it won’t sound like you — it loves words like delve, empower and holistic, and may include inaccuracies (referred to as hallucinations), so expect to put in quite a bit of editing time. The more specific you can be in your request or prompt, the better your results. However, even that doesn’t work all of the time. The free GPT I found to create YouTube summaries, after testing several of them and even paying for one, could not tone down its promotional voice no matter how many ways I tried to tell it “no adjectives or superlatives” and “use a more straightforward, factual style.” But once we got it to an acceptable output, it could use that sample for the next 25 videos, which was a timesaver in the long run.

Even the big guys’ GPTs don’t perform as well as you’d probably like or expect. With both Canva and Adobe Express, you can have an invitation generated in a second or two just by typing in what you want. However, if you want these GPTs to use specific brand colors, they cannot, which means you’ll have to click on the image to open it in the native program and change the colors manually. If that feels like a dealbreaker to you, be patient.

GPTs and the entire generative AI sector are in their early stages, and capabilities will improve. You could come back to Canva in a month or two and find the color issue is fixed and more capabilities have been added. Your goal should be to integrate GPTs into your daily routine now so that you can grow along with advances in technology.

Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at asklesliemeredith@gmail.com.

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