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04 May, 2024

What is Aider ?

Aider is a command line tool that lets you pair program with GPT-3.5/GPT-4, to edit code stored in your local git repository. You can start a new project or work with an existing repo. Aider makes sure edits from GPT are committed to git with sensible commit messages. Aider is unique in that it lets you ask for changes to pre-existing, larger codebases.

Aider Features

GPT-4 Turbo with 128k context and unified diffs

Aider supports OpenAI’s new GPT-4 model that has the massive 128k context window. Benchmark results indicate that it is very fast, and a bit better at coding than previous GPT-4 models. Aider now supports a unified diff editing format, which reduces GPT-4 Turbo’s “lazy” coding. To use it, run aider like this:

aider --4-turbo


Install Aider

See the installation instructions for more details, but you can get started quickly like this:

Terminal window
pip install aider-chat
export OPENAI_API_KEY=your-key-goes-here
aider hello.js
Using git repo: .git
Added hello.js to the chat.
hello.js> write a js script that prints hello world


  • Chat with GPT about your code by launching aider from the command line with set of source files to discuss and edit together. Aider lets GPT see and edit the content of those files.
  • GPT can write and edit code in most popular languages: python, javascript, typescript, html, css, etc.
  • Request new features, changes, improvements, or bug fixes to your code. Ask for new test cases, updated documentation or code refactors.
  • Aider will apply the edits suggested by GPT directly to your source files.
  • Aider will automatically commit each changeset to your local git repo with a descriptive commit message. These frequent, automatic commits provide a safety net. It’s easy to undo changes or use standard git workflows to manage longer sequences of changes.
  • You can use aider with multiple source files at once, so GPT can make coordinated code changes across all of them in a single changeset/commit.
  • Aider can give GPT-4 a map of your entire git repo, which helps it understand and modify large codebases.
  • You can also edit files by hand using your editor while chatting with aider. Aider will notice these out-of-band edits and keep GPT up to date with the latest versions of your files. This lets you bounce back and forth between the aider chat and your editor, to collaboratively code with GPT.
  • If you are using gpt-4 through openai directly, you can add image files to your context which will automatically switch you to the gpt-4-vision-preview model


Run the aider tool by executing the following command:

Terminal window
aider <file1> <file2> ...

If your pip install did not place the aider executable on your path, you can invoke aider like this:

Terminal window
python -m aider.main <file1> <file2>

Replace <file1> , <file2> , etc., with the paths to the source code files you want to work on. These files will be “added to the chat session”, so that GPT can see their contents and edit them according to your instructions. You can also just launch aider anywhere in a git repo without naming files on the command line. It will discover all the files in the repo. You can then add and remove individual files in the chat session with the /add and /drop chat commands described below. If you or GPT mention one of the repo’s filenames in the conversation, aider will ask if you’d like to add it to the chat. Aider will work best if you think about which files need to be edited to make your change and add them to the chat. Aider has some ability to help GPT figure out which files to edit all by itself, but the most effective approach is to explicitly add the needed files to the chat yourself. Aider also has many additional command-line options, environment variables or configuration file to set many options. See aider --help for details.

In-chat commands

Aider supports commands from within the chat, which all start with / . Here are some of the most useful in-chat commands:

  • /add <file>: Add matching files to the chat session.
  • /drop <file>: Remove matching files from the chat session.
  • /undo: Undo the last git commit if it was done by aider.
  • /diff: Display the diff of the last aider commit.
  • /run <command>: Run a shell command and optionally add the output to the chat.
  • /voice: Speak to aider to request code changes with your voice.
  • /help: Show help about all commands. See the full command docs for more information.


  • Think about which files need to be edited to make your change and add them to the chat. Aider has some ability to help GPT figure out which files to edit all by itself, but the most effective approach is to explicitly add the needed files to the chat yourself.
  • Large changes are best performed as a sequence of thoughtful bite sized steps, where you plan out the approach and overall design. Walk GPT through changes like you might with a junior dev. Ask for a refactor to prepare, then ask for the actual change. Spend the time to ask for code quality/structure improvements.
  • Use Control-C to safely interrupt GPT if it isn’t providing a useful response. The partial response remains in the conversation, so you can refer to it when you reply to GPT with more information or direction.
  • Use the /run command to run tests, linters, etc and show the output to GPT so it can fix any issues.
  • Use Meta-ENTER (Esc+ENTER in some environments) to enter multiline chat messages. Or enter { alone on the first line to start a multiline message and } alone on the last line to end it.
  • If your code is throwing an error, share the error output with GPT using /run or by pasting it into the chat. Let GPT figure out and fix the bug.
  • GPT knows about a lot of standard tools and libraries, but may get some of the fine details wrong about APIs and function arguments. You can paste doc snippets into the chat to resolve these issues.
  • GPT can only see the content of the files you specifically “add to the chat”. Aider also sends GPT-4 a map of your entire git repo. So GPT may ask to see additional files if it feels that’s needed for your requests.
  • I also shared some general GPT coding tips on Hacker News.

GPT-4 vs GPT-3.5

Aider supports all of OpenAI’s chat models. You can choose a model with the --model command line argument. You should probably use GPT-4 if you can. For more details see the FAQ entry that compares GPT-4 vs GPT-3.5. For a discussion of using other non-OpenAI models, see the FAQ about other LLMs.

Example chat transcripts

Here are some example transcripts that show how you can chat with aider to write and edit code with GPT-4.