Our Honest Review of ChatPDF

Last updated:
May 14, 2023
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Fast Facts

Key features:
  • Upload a PDF and ask questions
  • Suggests questions to ask based on your file
Our take:
It's a useful workaround for the time being.
  • Simple, easy-to-use utility
  • Free for PDFs up to 120 pages - enough to cover many use cases
  • Doesn't handle "aggregate" questions well, only specific questions where the answer is clearly specified in one place
  • For example, "What were all the mentions of [X]?" wouldn't work since that requires reading the entire file

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Our Review

One of the biggest questions about ChatGPT is - how do I get it to work with long documents?

For this, we have workarounds. While GPT-4 has a version that can handle up to 32K tokens of context (read: you could have ChatGPT work with ~50 pages of text), it's not publicly available yet.

So in the meantime, we have to use tools like ChatPDF. (Note: there are quite a few of these tools. They're all pretty much the same, so we chose the one we use most often.)

Q&As for your PDFs

Note that ChatPDF isn't "ChatGPT with your longer documents". Things it can do:

  • Summarize the document
  • Answer questions using information from the document

Things it can't do:

  • Read in the entire document - it pulls the most relevant paragraphs when answering your question
  • Generate any text - it's just Q&A, not a document rewriter/editor

For the full experience, we're going to have to wait for ChatGPT to expand its brain. Still, the functionality that ChatPDF offers is plenty enough for a wide swath of use cases.

Alternatives to ChatPDF

If you don't like ChatPDF (or if it goes down), you can also try: PDF.ai or AskYourPDF.com. If you're a Box user, Box AI also has the functionality (in beta at time of writing).

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