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MacGPT: how to use ChatGPT on your Mac

Apple might not officially be in the AI space, but a developer has created a legitimate way to bring ChatGPT to macOS and make the chatbot accessible from your menu bar.

The aptly named MacGPT is an application developed by Jordi Bruin that allows you to install ChatGPT as a remote browser on your Mac desktop. The application has been available since the 2022 holiday season and has garnered over 370 ratings, many of which are five stars. MacGPT is currently free, however, Bruin accepts donations. Once out of beta, he will make MacGPT available at the App Store, where it will sell for $5.

The MacGPT app for macOS Monterey and Ventura.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in trying out MacGPT.

How to download MacGPT

You can access the MacGPT download on Bruin’s Gumroad page. If you’d like to leave a donation, you can input your fair price. Select I want this and it will take you to the download page. Enter your email address and then select Get to begin the download. You will receive a receipt in your email detailing that you purchased the product, regardless of if you donated or not. The app is compatible with macOS Monterey and macOS Ventura.

How to sign in or register for MacGPT

Keep in mind that MacGPT is just ChatGPT in a Mac ecosystem. When opening the app, it closely resembles Apple’s Safari browser, but everything looks and feels very much like ChatGPT. The browser will open a ChatGPT welcome window giving you the option to either log in or sign up for ChatGPT.

The MacGPT signup page.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you already have an OpenAI account, or you subscribe to ChatGPT Plus, you can use your credentials to quickly access ChatGPT. If you use a Google or Microsoft account as your login, you can also use that to finish setup. Note that if you have two-factor authentication enabled on one of these sign-in methods, you’ll need to authenticate with a security token or app. If you don’t have an account, you can quickly register through the app on-screen.

What to expect when using MacGPT for the first time

Once logged in, you will have an experience similar to logging into ChatGPT on a standard browser. There are notifications detailing that ChatGPT is a free research preview and that some of the information generated might be incorrect, misleading, offensive, or biased.

The notifications of MacGPT are the same as those on ChatGPT.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There is a notification about how ChatGPT collects data and one encouraging feedback. When you get to the chatbot, it is identical to the online generator, which showcases examples, capabilities, and limitations. If you already have an account, you should be able to see your history of prior queries in the upper-left. Inputting a new prompt will generate your desired response and update your history, which you’ll then be able to see if you log into the original ChatGPT on a separate browser.

MacGPT special features

MacGPT does have some features that are unique to the application. You can set a keyboard shortcut for the app so that it opens without the use of a mouse. You can access this feature through the MacGPT preferences, which are located in the upper-right corner of the screen.

A dropdown view of the chatbot is one of the unique features of of MacGPT.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You can also select the Always on top option to have the MacGPT icon show up on the Mac screen header as a drop-down application.

Overall, though, MacGPT is basically a shortcut for the browser-based version of ChatGPT. It has the advantage of showing an icon on your desktop, but there were a few oddities I noticed when using the app:

  • You can purchase ChatGPT Plus through MacGPT since everything is identical to the web-based chatbot. At first, I got an error message when attempting to access the link. This could indicate that MacGPT suffers from the same throttling issues as the free ChatGPT. However, attempting again a few minutes later took me to the checkout page.
  • If you already have ChatGPT Plus, you can input your confirmation code into the Plus section located in the top-right corner of the browser.
  • MacGPT features a Dark mode similar to the web-based ChatGPT.
  • The only thing that appears nonfunctional on the MacGPT interface is the Updates & FAQ link.
  • When opening MacGPT, you might occasionally get a CAPTCHA notification asking you to confirm that you’re human.

Other than that, MacGPT is a simple way to access ChatGPT without going through your browser and not much more. Thankfully, there are some other interesting ways OpenAI’s tech is being implemented on other platforms. For example, Snapchat recently announced its My AI tool inside the app, and Slack integrated a ChatGPT bot into its application as well.

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Fionna Agomuoh
Fionna Agomuoh is a technology journalist with over a decade of experience writing about various consumer electronics topics…
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