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How to Upload a File to ChatGPT, and Why You Might Want To


ChatGPT can do many things: It can provide you with a summary of complex topics, brainstorm film ideas with you and even write code for you in different programming languages. But one thing the AI chatbot, developed by OpenAI, couldn’t do for a long time was access and read photos, documents and other files.

The AI chatbot roster — as with other generative AI tools — is expansive and growing, with Google Gemini, Microsoft Copilot, Claude.ai, Perplexity, Dall-E, Midjourney and others on the list. They’re collectively poised to transform how you work, how you get information and how companies do business. But it all started with ChatGPT.

If you wanted ChatGPT to analyze information from something like a PDF or an Excel spreadsheet, you were once out of luck. You’d have to type the information from the document into the chat thread without uploading anything.

But that’s no longer the case. With ChatGPT-4, the latest version of ChatGPT, you can now upload any file from your device. Read on to understand who can upload files, why you’d want to and how to upload files. Here’s everything you need to know.

Who exactly can upload files to ChatGPT?

Right now, to upload a file to ChatGPT, you need to pay for ChatGPT Plus. A subscription to ChatGPT Plus runs $20 a month, and this grants you access to ChatGPT-4 and access to the latest features, including uploading files. 

If you want to upgrade to ChatGPT Plus, open the ChatGPT app on your phone, access the side panel on the left side, tap the three-dot menu at the bottom of the page, go into Subscription and make a payment. You can also subscribe to ChatGPT Plus on your tablet or computer.

Why would you even want to upload files to ChatGPT anyway?

ChatGPT-4 can analyze any file you upload, whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation, an Excel spreadsheet, a research paper or a photo. 

If you upload a spreadsheet with financial data, for example, you can ask ChatGPT to create a visual graph of the numbers. If you upload a PowerPoint presentation you did for school, you can ask ChatGPT to give you feedback on the content, and even proofread and correct any mistakes. With a complicated research paper, you can ask ChatGPT to give you a simple summary to read through, along with a bullet list for headlines and key points.

And with a photo, you can ask ChatGPT to explain what’s in the image, or give you instructions on how to build something you’ve photographed. The options as to what you can ask ChatGPT for are limitless. It’s up to you to figure out exactly what you want ChatGPT to do with your files.

Before you upload a file to ChatGPT…

Think about your privacy. Any file you upload to ChatGPT is retained indefinitely within the service, and those files may also be used by OpenAI to train its models, so it’s best to refrain from uploading files with any important personal information, like your Social Security number, address, finance documents or phone numbers.

And someone else could potentially gain access to your personal information, so only upload files with information you wouldn’t mind other people getting access to.

It’s not just privacy. Consider accuracy too. ChatGPT can give wrong answers, and its dataset does not have up-to-date information, so you’ll want to double-check that the chatbot is accurately proofreading, summarizing or explaining as you’d expect. 

How to upload files to ChatGPT

Now for the easy part: Uploading files to ChatGPT. As long as you’re paying for the premium subscription, launch ChatGPT, create a new chat and hit the plus sign to the left of the text field to view your uploading options. Starting from the far left, you can:

  • Give ChatGPT access to your camera and take a photo from within the app
  • Upload a photo from your camera roll
  • Upload a file from the Files app

Once you upload a file (or files), enter your prompt underneath and hit send. ChatGPT will the analyze your file and answer your question.

How to upload a file to ChatGPT How to upload a file to ChatGPT

You can only upload files with a limit of 512MB per file and photos with a limit of 20MB per image. Note: The files in the middle screenshot above have been blurred for privacy reasons.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

In the examples below, (left) I uploaded a call sheet for a short film I worked on and asked ChatGPT to provide a list of everyone on set that day and (right) I uploaded four images of a pub that someone had built in their home and asked ChatGPT how I could do the same.

Uploaded files to ChatGPT Uploaded files to ChatGPT

You can ask ChatGPT to summarize, analyze, extract and more.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

You can continue asking questions, in regard to the file you uploaded, within the ChatGPT thread.

Editors’ note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.



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