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The 10 best ChatGPT plugins of 2023 (and how to make the most of them)

To get the most out of the ChatGPT AI chatbot, you need to use plugins. Here are ZDNET's picks for the best ChatGPT plugins available.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor
Expedia and KAYAK | Best ChatGPT plugin for travel
Expedia ChatGPT Plugin
Expedia and KAYAK
Best ChatGPT plugin for travel
View now View at Expedia
Ask Your PDF | Best ChatGPT plugin for pulling data out of PDFs
Loading a file into Ask Your PDF
Ask Your PDF
Best ChatGPT plugin for pulling data out of PDFs
View now View at Ask Your PDF
Link Reader | Best ChatGPT plugin for searching the web
Link Reader
Best ChatGPT plugin for searching the web
View now View at Gptstore
OpenTable | Best ChatGPT Plugin for making restaurant reservations
Best ChatGPT Plugin for making restaurant reservations
View now View at Opentable
Asking the right question | Best ChatGPT Plugin for making useful queries
Prompt Perfect
Asking the right question
Best ChatGPT Plugin for making useful queries
View now View at PromptPerfect
WolframAlpha | Best ChatGPT Plugin for helping find the right answers
Best ChatGPT Plugin for helping find the right answers
View now View at WolframAlpha
Wikipedia | Best ChatGPT Plugin for summarizing Wikipedia entries.
Best ChatGPT Plugin for summarizing Wikipedia entries.
View now View at Wikipedia
Zapier | Best ChatGPT Plugin for organizing your home, school, or office work.
Best ChatGPT Plugin for organizing your home, school, or office work.
View now View at Zapier
Show more (3 items)

With the right plugins, ChatGPT 4 -- the latest version of OpenAI's language model system -- can be very useful for helping you with various tasks. But even the most mature plugins are still, at best, beta quality. Used carefully, however, they'll still help you get real work done. 

The best ChatGPT plugins aren't your run-of-the-mill, "makes your browser blink in different colors" plugins. (Although, if you really want to play with colors, there's always Color Palette.) Instead, they add accuracy and functionality by incorporating third-party web services into your search. 

Also: The best AI chatbots: ChatGPT and other noteworthy alternatives

I've rounded up the best ChatGPT plugins for different use cases below, based on my experience testing them out. For now, all the plugins listed here are free. That will not last. For example, while the WolframAlpha expert system has a free tier, its most useful level, Pro, runs $5 a month. Eventually, you'll need to pay a subscription for this level of access to use its ChatGPT plugin. You can be sure many other programs will follow suit. 

Here are the best ChatGPT plugins to help you get more done. 

The best ChatGPT plugins of 2023

Pros & Cons
  • Deliver useful travel and hotel results
  • KAYAK doesn't always answer your question as you posed them
More Details

Here's a tie. Both the Expedia and the KAYAK transportation and hotel plugins are quite good. Both deliver human-like responses to simple questions: "What's the best three-star hotel rate in mid-town Manhattan between July 10th and 14th?" They also do well with more open-ended, subtle questions such as "What're the most fun things to do in Chicago in the summer with my eight-year-old between August 1st and 3rd?" Neither listed the Cubs games at Wrigley Field -- Bad AI, Bad! -- but both suggested reasonable kid-friendly activities.

However, you do need to look carefully at their results. For example, KAYAK, when I asked for city-center Munich hotels under 300 Euros, the top two answers were well above my price point. 

Used with caution, both are useful. Unfortunately, you can't use them together to fine-tune the answers you need for your next business trip. Still, since travel agents are as rare as hen's teeth these days, it's well worth using them. 

Pros & Cons
  • Works very well for helping you find data within a PDF file
  • You must manually enter PDFs outside of ChatGPT before you can work with it
More Details

A lot of valuable information is stored in PDF files. The problem is pulling the answers from them, as PDF is not a researcher-friendly format. Numerous plugins can work with PDFs, but Ask Your PDF is the best. 

This plugin does just what the name says. It reads through a PDF to find the answers to your questions. This can be very helpful. However, unlike the other best plugins, you need to work outside ChatGPT before it works. Here's how to do it:

Manually upload the PDF to the AskYourPDF service with these steps:

  1. Go to AskYourPDF Upload Page.

  2. Click on the "Upload Document" button.

  3. Select the PDF file you want to upload from your device.

  4. Once the upload is complete, you will receive a document ID (doc_id).

You paste the doc_id into your ChatGPT query and use it to extract information from the PDF with the plugin.

It takes a bit of work, but the results are excellent. Unlike most ChatGPT and plugins, it gives you exactly where the information comes from within the document. If you work a lot with PDFs, or even if you only do it once in a blue moon, this is one handy utility. 

Pros & Cons
  • Enables you to integrate search with other plugins
  • Does a good job of summarizing search results
  • The need to use a plugin instead of having Bing search built in
More Details

Since you can't use Bing search with plugins -- darn it! -- the next best thing is Link Reader. It also does just what the name says: It lets you pull up information for a specific page. 

But, you can also use it for more general topics. So, for example, the query: "I want to catch up on the latest news concerning Ukraine, can you compile a list of articles for me to read? LINK: https://www.theguardian.com/us" will deliver you news from The Guardian and other news sites. 

In early August, OpenAI took Link Reader offline for unknown reasons. But, as of September 9th, it's back. Still, sometimes--and I've yet to find the rhyme or reason to it--Link Reader simply won't work. When that happens, try another useful plugin that does the same job WebPilot

Generally speaking, Link Reader does better if you point it at a specific link, while WebPilot works well at general web searching. WebPilot is also more stable. 

Pros & Cons
  • Easily find and make restaurant reservations or a shopping list
  • Can miss some obvious restaurants
More Details

Hungry? Don't cook? Let the OpenTable plugin help. With it you can ask questions, just as if you had an expert local foodie friend, and get good answers.

Alas, good isn't always perfect. For example, when I asked it about Indian restaurants in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, it gave me a decent list, but it somehow missed the 2022 James Beard Award winner for Outstanding Restaurant Chai Pan. Whoops! Still, it gives you a start for making a reservation for tonight's dinner. 

And if you want to cook a meal yourself, there's always Instacart. With this plugin, you can create a "shoppable" list of the ingredients to make a perfect meal. Since my cooking abilities begin and end with boiling water for in the box mac and cheese, I leave it to you to decide how well it does. 

Pros & Cons
  • Simple to use
  • Would be useful if it explained how it works so you could learn more by using it
More Details

Asking the right question is most of the battle for getting good results from ChatGPT. It's not that easy. But with Prompt Perfect, you don't need to be an AI Prompt Engineer -- yes, that's a real job title these days -- to get better answers. 

Just start your query with "Perfect," jot down the rest of it, and Prompt Perfect will take it from there. Of course, the better you can craft your queries, the better job Prompt Perfect can do for you. 

For example, when I asked, "Perfect: Create a travel plan for a week-long trip to Bilbao, Spain, with a $1,000 budget," it returned a much more comprehensive and useful prompt. This "Perfect" prompt read: "Please develop a comprehensive itinerary for a one-week vacation in Bilbao, Spain, considering a $1,000 budget. Your plan should include details on transportation, lodging, food, activities, and any other relevant information that will help ensure a successful and enjoyable trip. Please consider factors such as seasonality, cultural events, and must-see destinations when crafting your itinerary." 

The former gave me a general trip outline without any details. The second gave me precise information, even including what buses to take and their prices. 


Best ChatGPT Plugin for searching through YouTube videos

Pros & Cons
  • Works well for searching through YouTube transcripts for information quickly
  • Only works on YouTube videos that already have transcripts
More Details

Some people learn really well from videos. YouTube has endless tutorials on any subject you can imagine. Some of us, like yours truly, learn best from the written word. For us, VoxScript can be a lifesaver. It can grab a video transcript and let you quickly pullout useful information

That's good, but what it can't do is generate transcripts from YouTube videos that don't already have them. However, soon, many more videos will come with transcripts. That's because Google is integrating YouTube with its AI-powered dubbing and translation service, Aloud, to provide automatic YouTube transcripts.

You can also use it to search for current web information. While this is still very much a work in progress, VoxScript also lets you search Google results via DuckDuckGo. If they can perfect this, VoxScript will be a killer ChatGPT app.

Pros & Cons
  • The expert system offers more accurate answers than any pure AI program available
  • Eventually, there will likely be a monthly subscription rate
More Details

You may have noticed that I keep harping on how you can't trust ChatGPT, or any of its rivals, for accurate answers. That's because you can't. The AI chatbots give you what sounds like the right answer. That does not mean it is the right answer. 

You can use the WolframAlpha expert systems to get the correct answers to math problems and many other questions. Long before AI was anything except science fiction to the public, WolframAlpha was delivering accurate information to its customers. Indeed, accuracy is the name of its game. 

Together you can get the benefits of both. Now, it's not good for everything. Technical, medical questions: Yes. What do I do about the flu? Not so much. Stay home, sleep a lot, and eat lots of chicken soup. 

But for those areas, such as math, physics, and finance, where it's good, it's very, very good indeed. 

Pros & Cons
  • Very comprehensive
  • Sometimes fails to pull current information from Wikipedia entries
More Details

I'm not a big Wikipedia fan, but many people rely on the online encyclopedia for information. It makes sense to combine ChatGPT and Wikipedia to get the best of both. Now, Wikipedia's editors know that generative AI is a major threat to their crowd-sourced encyclopedia. After all, what is ChatGPT if not an automated version of a crowd-sourced answer machine? As one Wikipedia editor recently told the New York Times, "It wouldn't surprise me if things are fine for the next three years, and then, all of a sudden, in Year 4 or 5, things drop off a cliff."

We'll see how that works out. In the meantime, I found ChatGPT + Wikipedia to be accurate about older, established information. For example, it gave me a decent summary of the symphonies of Ralph Vaughan-Williams, but a generalized round-up of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was fuzzy. Indeed, it didn't tell me that he's now the Jet's QB, even though that information is in Wikipedia. Mind you, now that he's torn his Achilles tendon, he won't be anyone QB for the rest of the year.

So, once more, I can only tell you this is a useful plugin, but you can't accept its results as Gospel truth. 

What to Watch

Best ChatGPT plugin for finding which shows are on which streaming services

What to Watch
Pros & Cons
  • Useful for finding your favorite shows across almost all the streaming services
  • Doesn't always give you accurate information
More Details

As you might have guessed from my numerous articles on the best online TV streaming platforms and best free streaming services, I watch a lot of television. Finding what services have the right shows is a major pain. There are websites that can help with that, but wouldn't it be nice if ChatGPT could do it for you? Well, thanks to the What to Watch plugin, it can.

It's not perfect, but it's reasonably good. For example, it spotted my trick question about Homicide: Life on the Street. That's one of the all-time great police movies, but it's not available on any streaming platform. And, no, you can't have my DVDs. 

But, it does make the occasional goof. For instance, the 10th season of Father Brown is out now, but not all the streaming services it lists have the newly released 10th season. 

Still, it's a lot better than digging through one service after another for your favorite obscure show. 

Pros & Cons
  • Streamlines work organization tools
  • Helps you debug your Zapier workflow actions
  • Getting the actions to work just the way you want takes a good deal of effort
More Details

Some people use Microsoft Office programs. Me? I use the Google family and Slack for a lot of my work. Wouldn't it be nice if I could organize it so that ChatGPT could, for example, pull out my schedule for the coming week from Google Calendar and then e-mail it to my co-workers via Gmail, and message my fellow Slackers with it on Monday morning? Thanks to the Zapier plugin, I can do exactly that. 

Getting everything just right to pull these operations off can be tedious, but the Zapier plugin will help you work out the details. Once it's done, you can use it from now until retirement.

It's a nice trick, which you can use for much more advanced workflow processing. If you want to cut out a lot of busy work, give it a try. You'll be glad you did.   

Advanced-Data Analytics (formerly Code Interpreter)

The best non-plug-in

Advanced Data Analysis
Pros & Cons
  • Excellent analysis functionality
  • You can write and run Python code in the chat
  • With the name change, your input is truncated after 200 to 230 lines.
More Details

With Advanced Data Analytics, you can upload and download files such as CSV files, Excel spreadsheets, and SQL databases into ChatGPT. Once there, it can analyze data, create charts, solve math problems, transform images from one format to another, and edit files. As ZDNET's David Gewirtz can show you, you can use it to work on such problems as making tables and charts and writing a JavaScript program.

To get it to work for you, you need, of course, a ChatGPT 4 account. Once you have that, go to the ChatGPT tab and follow these steps:

  • In the bottom right corner, click on your account name.
  • Click on Settings.
  • In the Settings menu, click on Beta features.
  • There, click on the Advanced-Data Analytics toggle. 
  • Go to create a new prompt and hover over GPT-4 at the top. There should now be a dropdown that allows you to switch between the standard and GPT-4 versions.
  • Click on the Advanced-Data Analytics option.
  • The Advanced-Data Analytics mode is now ready to go. 

To use Advanced-Data Analytics mode, you must turn it on with the above steps every time you start up a new chat. To import files into it for analysis, click on the plus sign by the "Send a message" window. 

How I chose these ChatGPT plugins

In September 2023, there are almost 1,000 ChatGPT plugins available. More are being added every day. The ones already here are also constantly being updated and improved. 

With all that in mind, I asked my friends and colleagues, which ones they used. I looked over most of the plugins. I dismissed the ones that don't really add functionality already available in many other places. (For example, there's a chess-playing plugin, but chess apps have long been available on every platform known to humankind. There's no compelling case to use yet another one just because it runs on ChatGPT.) I also didn't bother to look deeply into clearly half-baked plugins. 

Instead, I picked plugins that I thought most people would find useful and that I found worked reasonably well. 

Can you trust the answers you get from these ChatGPT plugins?

Nope. Let me quote OpenAI: "Connecting language models to external tools introduces new opportunities as well as significant new risks.

Be careful. I treat ChatGPT as a tool for getting first impressions. It's not -- I repeat, not -- something you can trust to give you accurate answers.

Additionally, I often found mistakes even when ChatGPT called out to other services such as web searches and Wikipedia. Mind you, ChatGPT and its plugins will sound like it's giving you accurate information. As the old Russian saying, which President Reagan borrowed, "Trust, but verify."

Can you trust the plugins to do what they say they'll do?

Except for WolframAlpha, I wouldn't. Everyone else is new to this, and it shows. Even with the best intentions in the world, they make blunders. And, as OpenAI warns, "there's a risk that plugins could increase safety challenges by taking harmful or unintended actions, increasing the capabilities of bad actors who would defraud, mislead, or abuse others."

Every other platform has bad actors and malware. There is no reason to believe it will be any different with ChatGPT plugins. 

How many ChatGPT plugins can I use at once?

There's currently a hard limit on how many plugins you can have active at once. You can switch them out, but only up to three can work at any given time. Also, remember that they don't work well together yet.

What limits does ChatGPT 4 have?

Remember that when you use plugins, you're still limited to ChatGPT-4's 50 queries every three hours. Once you pass that threshold, you're dumped back to ChatGPT 3.5. So, before starting your session, be very clear about what you're trying to achieve.  

There's also a new business-only ChatGPT 4 service for businesses and others with big budgets:  ChatGPT for Enterprise. ChatGPT Enterprise removes all usage caps and performs up to two times faster. You can also ask four times longer than ordinary ChatGPT 4 questions.

So, there you have it. Ten plugins, plus three extra, turn ChatGPT from a chatbot into a full-blown digital assistant. These plugins go a long way to transforming ChatGPT into an everyday utility. 

So, there you have it. Ten plugins, plus two extra, that turn ChatGPT from a mere chatbot into a full-blown digital assistant. These plugins go a long way to transforming ChatGPT into an everyday utility. 

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