Ryan K. Hunter Ryan K. Hunter Ryan K. Hunter


By Ryan Hunter - August 29, 2023

GPT4ALL is an ecosystem to train and deploy powerful and customized large language models that run locally on consumer-grade computers.

The really cool thing is that it takes very little in the way of configuration, and offers multiple models that one can test out and play with. The GPT4ALL project is under active development, and sees pretty frequent updates and new features.

Getting the Most Out of This Guide

Periodically, there will be industry-specific terms that I can't avoid using. I've done my best to make any of those terms links, which will take you to the bottom of this document where you will find a collection of key terms and definitions.

If you run into a stumbling block, I can be reached by email. Please keep in mind that I do not personally own any Apple computer hardware, so Apple-specific questions are something I can't really help with.

Getting the Installer

First thing's first. You'll need to download the installer file for GPT4ALL. The installer can be found at nomic.ai's gpt4all.io webpage. Just look for the part of the site that matches the image below and click on the corresponding button for your computer's operating system.

gpt4all.io installer buttons image

Make sure sure you pay attention to where your browser saves the file.

Installation Process

The steps to start the installer vary by operating system.

Windows Install

Mac OSX Install

Linux Install

Just take me to the next part.

Windows Install

To launch the windows installation process, just double-click the installer file that you downloaded. At time of writing, the filename would be gpt4all-installer-win64.exe.

Important: Note that GPT4ALL only runs on Windows 10 and above.

Mac OSX Install

Installing on Mac OSX can be accomplished in the following steps:

  1. Locate the installer file you downloaded. At time of writing, the filename should be gpt4all-installer-darwin.dmg.
  2. Double-click the DMG file to mount it. OSX will verify the file and then mount it as a virtual disk on your desktop or in the Finder sidebar under "Devices".
  3. Once you open the DMG file, you'll see an icon for the GPT4ALL installer. Double-click this and it should run the installer. You can proceed below.

Ubuntu Install

To launch the Ubuntu installation process, just double click the installer file that you downloaded. At time of writing, the filename would be gpt4all-installer-linux.run. Note that if you are not running the most recent version of Ubuntu, the install may fail, and your only option will be to compile from source. That is outside the scope of this guide.

Applies to All Operating Systems

Regardless of what operating system you are running, you should now see a screen that looks something like this:

First installation screen.

Do not click "Settings"!

Ignore the Settings button and just click on Next. 99.9% of users will not have a use-case for anything under the Settings screen.

Next, we'll choose an installation folder. My advice is to accept the default that it suggests.

Second installation image.

This is yet another of those 'just click Next' situations.

The next screen is to select components. One day, there may be more to choose here, but for now — say it with me — just click Next.

Third installer image.

Now for everyone's favorite bedtime reading: The End User License Agreement! Actually, the license is pretty short and sweet, and is a standard MIT License. Check it out really quick and just click Next.

Fourth installer image.

Don't forget to check the "I accept the license." box in order to proceed!

Now you should see a few loading bars, not that it'll take long. The installer is just unpacking some files into the installation folder needed for the program to run.

Fifth installation image.

And that's it for the installer! Just click Finish to close it out, and then we can get to the fun part.

Sixth installation image.

Privacy Options

First run screen with privacy options.

GPT4ALL's privacy options shown on first run.

When you launch GPT4ALL for the first time, you'll see a screen with some privacy options. it will ask you about potentially sharing some information with nomic.ai, the group that created GPT4ALL. At time of writing, this is the explanation featured on this page:

By enabling these features, you will be able to participate in the democratic process of training a large language model by contributing data for future model improvements. When a GPT4All model responds to you and you have opted-in, your conversation will be sent to the GPT4All Open Source Datalake. Additionally, you can like/dislike its response. If you dislike a response, you can suggest an alternative response. This data will be collected and aggregated in the GPT4All Datalake. NOTE: By turning on this feature, you will be sending your data to the GPT4All Open Source Datalake. You should have no expectation of chat privacy when this feature is enabled. You should; however, have an expectation of an optional attribution if you wish. Your chat data will be openly available for anyone to download and will be used by Nomic AI to improve future GPT4All models. Nomic AI will retain all attribution information attached to your data and you will be credited as a contributor to any GPT4All model release that uses your data!

The first option is an opt-in to send anonymous usage analytics used to improve GPT4ALL. This means stuff like which features people use most, what settings they're using with their models, and when the program runs into errors. This is pretty standard, and most retail software out there does this by default. Saying Yes definitely helps the developers make the program better, but that's a personal judgement call. And privacy choice is sacred in the open source software community.

The second option is to enable sharing the content of your actual chats with nomic.ai's "data lake", which is a neat-sounding term for "giant pile of potential training material" that they could theoretically use to train or refine other AI models, in some capacity. If you're working on something you'd rather keep private, I'd definitely select No here.

Installing a Model

This is the last stage of the setup process, and soon you'll be ready to start chatting with your new personal, private AI model(s)!

The next screen that will appear will ask you about just which model(s) you want to install. Here are some important considerations:

GPT4ALL model choice screen.

The GPT4ALL model download screen.

You'll notice that next to each model is a convenient little reference card. Take a look at the one below:

GPT4ALL model download card example.

Let's walk through what each item on this card means.

After looking at how much RAM you have to work with in your computer, decide on a model. Below are my recommendations for various use cases.

Wizard v1.1

GPT4ALL Falcon


It should be noted there are many more models available than the ones I have listed above, but that should be good enough to get you started.

A Tour of the User Interface (UI)

Below you'll see an example of GPT4ALL's main screen. Think of it like a standard text chat. If you have ever used OpenAI's ChatGPT, it is quite similar in terms of layout.

GPT4ALL's main screen.

At the top is a drop-down menu that allows you to select which model you would like to use. This is how you switch between them if you download multiple models.

At the bottom is a text entry box. You can either press Enter or click the arrow at the right of the text-entry box to send your message to your AI model once it's loaded.

The Regenerate response button at the bottom of the main chat area will cause the AI to retry responding to the last thing that you sent it. Note that the response may be identical to the last one you received, depending on certain settings (which we will dive into in the next section).

Settings and Parameters

Click the gear icon at the top-right to access the Settings screen.

A screen should appear, showing options like those in the example below:

GPT4ALL options screen.

Now, let's take a look at what each of these things does:

Model / Character

This is a dropdown that allows you to select the model you want to adjust the settings for. Make sure you have the correct one selected! So far as the Clone button goes, the gist is that you can add a new entry in the list based off the currently-selected model or character and adjust it. Let's say you have already cloned your model once, named it "Johnny 5", and given it a list of personality traits in the System Prompt portion (see System Prompt section below). Well, what if Johnny 5 is close to what you imagined, but not quite? You could clone Johnny 5 and name the new character Johnny 6, making any tweaks to his personality you wanted to try out.

Note that all of your models will always appear in this list, in addition to any sets of custom settings. It is strongly advised you give your sets of custom settings a unique name (see next item) to help differentiate them.

Unique Name

The name you want to give to this particular set of settings for your model. For an example, let's imagine I've cloned my ggml-wizardLM-13B-Uncensored_v3_q8_0.bin model and given it a unique name of Test Assitant, so I could have a place to save settings for that model to act like a personal assistant. In the image below, you can see how these would appear in the Model/Character dropdown.

Model / Character dropdown example.

Model File

This field cannot be changed, and is just a helpful indicator of which model your custom settings are being applied to.

System Prompt

This is where you set what is called the Fixed Context, or a piece of information that is always sent to the AI with every query you ask of it. This is in contrast to the Dynamic Context. You can find many alternative prompts to this at jailbreakchat.com.

Prompt Template

I wouldn't advise messing with this. Models downloaded directly through GPT4ALL should not require changing this in any way. However, models acquired and added from outside of the GPT4ALL program (for example, from Hugging Face) may require you to change this. Once more, this is outside the scope of this guide.

Generation Settings

Now we get to the meat of really tweaking AI. Most of these settings can be thought of as how 'random' the results from an AI text model will be when it responds to user input. Essentially, these are all parameters in very fancy probability equations.

Note: If you ever adjust some things that don't go according to plan and feel lost, don't forget hitting Restore Defaults is always an option! In the words of the great Douglas Adams, "Don't Panic!"


Important Terms and Definitions

If you've felt lost at any point with some of the terms, don't worry. Lots of people are, even those actively participating in the AI space. And there aren't many great resources available to look them up, for the moment. So here's a few key terms to help you out:

CPU / Central Processing Unit

The 'brains' of any computer. This is the chip that handles running most calculations for day-to-day tasks. If you've heard people talk about Intel or AMD chips, this is generally what they're referring to. GPT4ALL uses the CPU to run text generation AI models.

RAM / Random Access Memory

Temporary storage used by computers to load programs from storage volumes ('hard drives' and 'solid state drives', generally). The reason for this is that long-term storage is incredibly slow compared to RAM. You may be asking yourself why we don't use RAM to store everything if it's so much faster. The answer is that RAM does not retain any of the data stored on it once it loses power. So once your machine is turned off, everything that was in it is as good as gone.

Open Source

Software that is developed in a public, collaborative way, where the programming code that allows it to run is available for anyone to view and audit. This stands in contrast to 'closed source' software. The overwhelming majority of retail software is closed source.


Tokens are not words, but more like syllables (-ish). An example is won't. It is comprised of two tokens. won and 't. After the AI would choose a token like won, it could choose from tokens such as 't or 'tcha, depending on overall likelihood.


In the context of text generating AI, a model is the actual file(s) that contain all of the relational data that allows an AI to generate text. This relational data is formed by feeding training material into an AI, which then causes the AI model to adjust its internal parameters. It's intentionally similar to how the human brain arranges neuronal connections to form memories, though grossly simplified by comparison.


A prompt, when relating to AI, refers to an input or instruction given to the model with the goal of eliciting a specific type of response or output. It serves as a starting point, or cue, for the AI to generate content, answer questions, or perform a specific task. The response the model gives is based on patterns it has observed from its training data, as well as how the prompt is crafted in 'guiding' its response through those patterns. A well-crafted prompt will produce more accurate, relevant, or contextually appropriate outputs.


The surrounding information or text that the AI model uses to generate relevant and coherent responses. It's the input or background information that the model considers when deciding what words or sentences to produce next. The context ensures that the AI's output is not entirely random, but rather based on the provided input or previous parts of a conversation.

Context Window

The fixed number of most recent words or tokens the model can see and consider at once when generating a response. If the conversation or input exceeds this limit, the model might lose or not see the earlier parts, affecting its understanding and the coherence of its replies.

Different AI models have different lengths of context window. Here are some common contexts:

Context Window Length Shorthand
4,096 Tokens 4K
8,192 Tokens 8K
16,384 Tokens 16K
32,768 Tokens 32K

Note that I have included the values here in this table in case you intend to use them with various models down the road. There are models readily available via Hugging Face that are compatible with GPT4ALL and possess an 8K context window. Larger context windows require more RAM.

If you're wondering why those numbers in the leftmost column look so funky, the short answer is that computers use base-2 mathematics, unlike the base-10 that most people are comfortable with.

The context window is composed of three components: The fixed context, the dynamic context, and the current user input (aka the prompt). If you are using a model with a 4K context window (meaning 4,096 tokens), and your fixed context is 1024 tokens in length, then you would have 3,072 tokens left for dynamic context and your next input.

Fixed Context / Static Context / Permanent Context

All three terms are used interchangeably (the burdens of a young field of study). The fixed context refers to information that is sent to your AI every time you give it some input (so basically, in GPT4ALL, that would be every time you hit 'send' on a message to the AI). No matter how long your conversation gets, this part never goes away.

Fixed context can be used for a lot of things. It can be used to give the AI details of the project you are currently working on that it needs to take into account while assisting you. It could be used to give the AI the personality traits, backstory, and description of a character that you want it to emulate. It can also be used to give the AI a brief summary of a previous conversation you had with it, rather than having to give it the entire transcript and filling up your whole context window.

Dynamic Context

The dynamic context is just whatever is left of the overall context window once you take the fixed context into account. Most programs for interacting with AI will fill this remainder of the context window with your chat history with your AI, starting with the most recent portion of your conversation and working backwards in reverse chronological order until it hits the maximum number of tokens for your model's context window.