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ChatGPT does have access to the internet, but not for all users

ChatGPT is now capable of accessing the internet, here's everything you need to know

Reviewed By: Steve Hook

Last Updated on April 3, 2024
Image shows the ChatGPT logo next to a wifi symbol below the PC guide logo
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Since its introduction in 2022, ChatGPT has made its name as the world’s most popular and successful AI chatbot. During its time available to the public, ChatGPT has seen a number of system updates with GPT-4 being the most recent. Initially, its system did not have any access or connection with the internet, nor any connection with the external data source. However, all that has changed, as ChatGPT can now access the internet. Although, unfortunately, this feature is only available for some users.

Quick Answer

ChatGPT can access the internet through the use of Microsoft’s Browse with Bing. This feature can only be utilized in the GPT-4 model, therefore only users that are on a paid subscription to ChatGPT can access it.

ChatGPT does have access to the internet

Yes, ChatGPT has internet access. OpenAI rolled out this web browsing feature to the platform in May 2023, allowing users with paid subscriptions to ChatGPT (Plus/Team/Enterprise accounts) to access real-time information on the internet through the chatbot. Meaning, that if you intend to use the free version of ChatGPT, unfortunately, you won’t be able to access the internet.

Users can now get more detailed answers to their questions and dive deeper into topics, provided they’re on a paid subscription. Through this feature, GPT-4 has no information cutoff, so users can ask the chatbot whatever they like and it will retrieve all the up-to-date information it can find.

Below are some examples that demonstrate what happens when the GPT-4 model, used in ChatGPT Plus, answers a question requiring information found on the internet, compared to the GPT-3.5 model.

GPT-4 (ChatGPT Plus, Team, Enterprise users):

Screenshot of a chat interface showing a list of music events happening in Manchester.
Example of the GPT-4 model answering a question that requires finding information on the internet.
As ChatGPT cannot access the internet to modify or provide current weather forecasts, the description remains as provided: A screenshot of a weather forecast response for Manchester showing variable conditions with rain showers, overcast
Example of the GPT-4 model answering a question that requires finding information on the internet.

GPT-3.5 (ChatGPT free version):

Example of the GPT-3.5 model answering a question that requires finding information on the internet.
Screenshot of a chat conversation where someone asks if ChatGPT can access the internet for weather in Manchester and receives an informative reply suggesting various sources to check for up-to-date weather forecasts.
Example of the GPT-3.5 model answering a question that requires finding information on the internet.

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How does ChatGPT access the internet?

OpenAI rolled out ChatGPT’s internet browsing feature update, in May 2023. This update paired ChatGPT with Microsoft’s Bing web browser (Browse with Bing), in order to allow paying ChatGPT users to access the internet through the chatbot. Before this update users were restricted to information from 2021, and could not access the internet in real-time.

Users initially had to access the feature by selecting the beta toggle. However, now the feature works with the chatbot automatically.

ChatGPT internet access – beta features and plugins

Before the release of OpenAI’s latest model, users couldn’t ask the AI chatbot about current world events or real-time data. ChatGPT internet access is relatively recent. The capabilities that come along with it, in addition to the obvious chat functionality, make it much more powerful than search engines like Google. ChatGPT Enterprise and ChatGPT Plus subscribers can use beta features and ChatGPT plugins like:

  • Klarna
  • Code Interpreter
  • Fiscalnote
  • Milo
  • Wolfram Alpha
  • Toggle
  • Trello
  • Slack
  • Opentable
  • Shopify
  • Gmail

Drawbacks of ChatGPT accessing the Internet

Although ChatGPT being able to access the internet is extremely helpful when wanting to access up-to-date information through your chatbot, there are still some apparent risks.

Quality of Data

The information spread over the internet can be unreliable and inconsistent. So if an AI bot like ChatGPT is allowed internet access to fetch that information, it can result in misleading or incorrect information, raising serious questions about their credibility.

Therefore, allowing them full internet access can lead to jeopardizing the quality of the data the bot uses and offers to others.

Privacy and security

Allowing an AI bot like ChatGPT full access to a live internet connection can cause serious security and privacy threats. For instance, malicious users can easily access ChatGPT users’ sensitive information. 

Similarly, they can even spread misinformation while having full access to users’ personal information. Therefore, giving internet access to ChatGPT or any other AI system could be seriously threatening.

Bias and control

OpenAI ensures that its system’s model is bias-free and based on high-quality data. But suppose it starts to control conversational data by accessing an internet connection. In that case, there is a possibility that it could stop producing bias-free content and potentially deliver inappropriate responses.

Such changes would cause serious questions about its performance and credibility. Generally, these AI bots would seem better off without full internet access to avoid inappropriate incidents.

Other AI tools with access to the internet

Accessing information on the internet through a chatbot is a helpful feature that allows conversations with your AI tool to be more detailed and relevant. However, only being able to access this feature in ChatGPT when on a Plus subscription is definitely a downside. Luckily, there are other AI tools out there that have access to the internet, if you don’t fancy subscribing to ChatGPT.

The AI tools listed above provide alternate AI chatbot options that have access to the internet. The alternate options are either free or priced below ChatGPT and could be the right choice for you if spending money on a ChatGPT Plus/Team/Enterprise subscription is not an option.

To read up on some more AI assistant options, check out our best ChatGPT 2024 alternatives guide. Where we discuss some of the best AI tools on the market at the minute.


Undoubtedly, web access for ChatGPT, without the need for a browsing plugin, is exciting news! You can now use ChatGPT as a web browser – a serious threat to the Google Chrome web browser and Google Search business. With no installation necessary, and no waitlist, ChatGPT web browsing is sure to have a huge impact on the internet from now on.

As previously mentioned, ChatGPT’s internet access is only available for users on the ChatGPT Plus plan. Nothing has been mentioned by OpenAI about making internet access available on GPT-3.5. Therefore users on the free version of the chatbot will either have to swap to another AI tool or start a ChatGPT subscription if they want to access the internet.

Kevin is the Editor of PC Guide. He has a broad interest and enthusiasm for consumer electronics, PCs and all things consumer tech - and more than 15 years experience in tech journalism.