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How to use ChatPDF: The AI chatbot that can tell you everything about your PDF

Put your time to better use than reading a lengthy PDF. Here's how.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
PDF downlaod
Image: Getty Images/Tetiana Musiyaka

PDFs have become the golden standard for file sharing and you're bound to encounter them in your everyday life.

Regardless of whether it's a one-page job offer or a 100-page academic paper, these files can often contain a lot of text that can be difficult to parse through and digest.

Now, ChatPDF is a free AI tool that's here to assist you with all of your PDF-reading needs. 

Simply by uploading your PDF to ChatPDF, the chatbot will automatically deliver a summary and suggest questions you can ask to learn more about the file. 

Also: How does ChatGPT work?

The most convenient feature of the chatbot is that it can answer any question you ask about the PDF instantly. It even provides page references for where it got its answers, so you can do your own research. 

How to use ChatPDF

Getting started is easy since you don't even need to create an account. 

Free plan users, however, are limited to three PDF uploads of 120 pages or less a day. If you need more access, you can upgrade to a plus plan for $5 per month. 

Also: The 5 biggest risks of generative AI, according to an expert

Once you've determined if you want to stick with the free plan or need an upgrade, you can begin. 

1. Download your PDF

Once you find the PDF you want ChatPDF to assist you with, you will need to download it onto your computer. I like to add mine to my desktop, as seen by the screenshot below, because it makes it easier for me to locate the file.

Downloaded PDF screenshot
Image: Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

2. Visit ChatPDF

After you have downloaded your PDF, you are ready to visit ChatPDF's website.

ChatPDF homepage
Image: Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

3. Upload your PDF

Click on the Drop PDF here section and select the PDF you want to upload to the chatbot. You can also just drag the file into the Drop PDF here section. 

Select your file on ChatPDF
Image: Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

4. Start asking questions

Once you've uploaded the file, you will be sent to the actual chatbot. There you will be met with a brief summary of your PDF, as well as suggested questions you can ask to learn more about the file. From this point, you can decide where the conversation goes!

ChatPDF screenshot
Image: Screenshot by Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET


How much does it cost to use ChatPDF?

Using ChatPDF to sum up a file and answer any questions about your PDF is free. However, if you'd like to exceed the free plan's limit of three uploads with a maximum of 120 pages a day, you can upgrade to a plus plan for $5 per month. 

Is it better to use ChatGPT or ChatPDF to sum up articles?

Since ChatGPT doesn't have access to the internet or to information after 2021, it is prone to making mistakes when it creates summaries. If you need to summarize a PDF, I would recommend utilizing ChatPDF instead of ChatGPT as the results are accurate, quick, free, and more reliable.  

What technology does ChatPDF use?

ChatPDF runs on OpenAI's GPT 3.5 large language model, the same LLM behind ChatGPT. 

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