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How to get an OpenAI API Key: A Step-By-Step Guide

by Francis Rodino

August 31, 2023

1. Establish Your OpenAI Profile

If you haven’t yet set up an account with OpenAI, your first step is to head over to the OpenAI website. Look for the “Sign Up” option, typically found at the top-right corner of the homepage. Click it and proceed to enter your necessary details to initiate your account.

2. Authenticate Your OpenAI Profile

Once you’ve registered, OpenAI will send a verification email to the address you provided. Open the email and click on the enclosed link to confirm your account. This procedure enhances the safety of your new account.

OpenAI Login Screen

3. Sign In to Your OpenAI Account

With your account now verified, go back to the OpenAI website. Locate and click on the “Log In” button and input the username and password you selected during the registration process.

Screenshot: OpenAI Login Screen

4. Find the API Section

After successfully logging in, turn your attention to the top-right corner of your screen. You’ll notice an icon displaying your account name. Click on this icon to reveal a dropdown menu, and from there select “View API keys.”

Screenshot: OpenAI Dashboard Main View

5. Create a New API Key

You’ve now landed on the API keys section. Here, you will see an option to “Create new secret key.” Click on it to initiate the process of generating your API key.

A dialog box will appear, prompting you to label your new API key. It’s advisable to use distinct names for different keys—especially if you plan to use multiple keys for different purposes. Once you’ve decided on a name, click on “Create secret key.”

6. Safeguard Your Generated API Key

At this point, you’ll see your newly-generated secret key. Take a moment to copy this key and insert it into any application where it’s needed.

It’s crucial to store this key in a secure location, as you won’t be able to recover it later due to security protocols. You’ll use this key to authorize your applications to interact with OpenAI services.

7. Configure Billing Preferences

Since OpenAI operates on a usage-based billing system, you’ll need to set up your payment method if you haven’t done so yet. Otherwise, your newly-created API key won’t function.

To do this, navigate to the “Billing” section in the left-hand menu and select “Payment methods.”

On the subsequent screen, click “Add payment method.” A dialog box will appear for you to enter your credit card and billing information. Confirm by clicking “Submit.”

8. Implement Usage Restrictions

Now that your billing is squared away, it’s a good idea to establish usage limits. This way, you can manage your monthly expenses for the API service.

To set these limits, click on “Usage limits” in the left-hand menu. Here, you can specify both “hard” and “soft” usage restrictions. Confirm your settings by clicking “Save.”

9. Abide by OpenAI’s Usage Policies

Lastly, make sure to read and understand OpenAI’s usage policies and terms of service. Complying with these guidelines ensures that the technology is being used in an ethical and responsible manner.

Congratulations! You’re now equipped to start leveraging OpenAI’s advanced machine learning capabilities. Just remember to keep your API key confidential.

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About the author 

Francis Rodino

Francis has spent over two decades launching global digital marketing campaigns and delivering ROI for some of the world's best-known brands. From the BBC to Fifa, Playstation and Virgin, in 2018 Francis set out to make a bigger impact helping established small businesses and entrepreneurs harness marketing technology and cutting-edge digital strategies to increase sales, gain greater control and free up their time grow a business that runs itself.