How do I get an OpenAI API key?

How do I get an OpenAI API key?

OpenAI, a trailblazer in the realm of artificial intelligence, offers a robust API that allows developers to interact with some of its most powerful models. These include GPT-3 and Codex, which can be used for numerous applications, from generating human-like text to writing code. As of my knowledge cut-off in September 2021, if you’re interested in harnessing the power of these AI models, you’ll need an OpenAI API key. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to secure this key.

Step 1: Create an Account on the OpenAI Website

The first step to acquiring an OpenAI API key is to create an account on the OpenAI website. Visit and fill in the required details. You’ll need to provide your email address and create a strong password. Make sure your password is unique and secure, as it will protect your account and your future API key.

Once you’ve filled in your details, click the ‘Sign Up’ button. OpenAI will send a verification email to the address you provided. Check your inbox for this email and click the verification link to confirm your account. If you can’t find the email, check your spam folder.

Step 2: Accept OpenAI’s Use Case Policy

Once your account is confirmed, you’ll need to review and accept OpenAI’s use case policy. This policy outlines the permitted and prohibited uses of the API. It’s crucial that you read and understand this policy before proceeding. Violations of the policy could result in your API key being revoked.

Step 3: Provide Your Payment Information

After agreeing to OpenAI’s use case policy, the next step is to provide your payment information. OpenAI uses a pay-per-use pricing model, meaning you’ll be charged based on how much you use the API. The exact cost will depend on the specific model you use and the amount of data you process.

You’ll need to provide a valid credit card to cover these charges. Fill in your card details and billing address, then click ‘Continue’.

Step 4: Submit a Use Case for Review

OpenAI requires all users to submit a use case for review before they can access the API. This is to ensure that the API is used responsibly and in accordance with OpenAI’s use case policy.

When describing your use case, be as detailed as possible. Explain what you intend to use the API for, how it will be implemented, and any potential risks and their mitigations. If your use case is approved, you’ll be granted access to the API.

Step 5: Generate Your API Key

Once your use case is approved, you’ll be able to generate your API key. Navigate to the ‘API keys’ section of the OpenAI website and click ‘Create a new key’. You’ll be prompted to name your key. Choose a name that reflects its purpose, as this will make it easier to manage your keys if you generate more in the future.

After naming your key, click ‘Create’. Your new API key will be displayed. Be sure to record this key in a secure location, as it will not be shown again. If you lose your key, you’ll need to generate a new one.

Step 6: Implement Your API Key in Your Code

With your API key in hand, you can now begin using the OpenAI API. To do this, you’ll need to include your API key in your code. Typically, the API key is used to authenticate your application’s requests to the OpenAI API. Here’s how to do it in Python, assuming you’re using OpenAI’s Python library:


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import openai

openai.api_key = ‘your-api-key’

Replace ‘your-api-key’ with the actual key you generated. Now, every request you make to the OpenAI API from your Python application will be authenticated with your key.

Ensure you handle your API key securely. It’s not a good practice to hard-code the key into your script, especially if the code is stored in a version control system like git, which could be publicly accessible. Instead, consider storing it in an environment variable, a configuration file that isn’t included in your version control system, or use a secrets management tool.

In a Unix-like operating system, for example, you can set an environment variable in the terminal like this:


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export OPENAI_API_KEY=’your-api-key’

Then, in your Python script, you can read this environment variable:


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import os

import openai

openai.api_key = os.getenv(‘OPENAI_API_KEY’)

This way, your key is not exposed in your script. Make sure the environment variable is set in the environment where your application runs.

Step 7: Monitor Your Usage

OpenAI’s API dashboard will allow you to monitor your usage. This is important for keeping track of your API requests and managing costs. The dashboard provides detailed information about each request, including the date, time, and amount of data processed.

Step 8: Responsible Usage and Key Revocation

Lastly, it’s important to use your API key responsibly. Ensure that your use of the API continues to comply with OpenAI’s use case policy. If OpenAI finds that you’re not complying with their policy, your API key may be revoked.

If you believe your API key has been compromised, you should revoke it immediately. To do this, navigate to the API keys section on the OpenAI website, find the key you want to revoke, and click ‘Revoke’. You can then generate a new key if needed.

Getting an OpenAI API key involves creating an OpenAI account, accepting the use case policy, providing payment information, and submitting a use case for review. Once approved, you can generate your API key and start harnessing the power of OpenAI’s AI models. Always remember to use the API responsibly, handle your API key securely, and monitor your usage to manage costs effectively.