Updated November 1st, 2022.
The Mac’s had a calculator from the very first day, but a lot of people have never used it at all. The ones who have used it probably don’t know everything it can do so they probably aren’t so impressed with it. Turns out the Calculator is way slicker than initially meets the eye, and I think you’ll use it a lot once you’ve learned about its powers. So here we go with Seven Tips and Shortcuts for the Mac Calculator app.
Table of Contents
- Put the Calculator into the Dock
- The Calculator has three modes: Basic, Scientific, and Programmer
- Use the keyboard for data entry
- The Calculator has a “paper tape”
- The Calculator can do conversions
- Show commas to separate the thousands, millions, and so on
- The Calculator can speak the buttons you’ve pressed
1. Put the Calculator into the Dock
You won’t use the Calculator if it’s any trouble to launch it, so put it in the Dock so you can launch it in a hurry. (Leave the Calculator in the Applications folder so Apple can find it when it’s time to update it.)
BONUS: easiest way to put it into the Dock is to find it in the Applications folder, double-click to launch, notice that it’s TEMPORARILY put itself into the Dock, and then click and hold on the Calculator (in the Dock), slide to Options, and then to Keep in Dock. It takes less time to do it than to read about it!
2. The Calculator has three modes: Basic, Scientific, and Programmer
Switch between them from the keyboard using ⌘-1, ⌘-2, ⌘-3, or choose as desired from the View menu. (You can click the green button at top left of the Calculator to toggle between Basic and Scientific views.)
3. Use the keyboard for data entry
You can enter numbers using the numeric keypad that might be on your keyboard rather than click-click-clicking on the number buttons on the Calculator itself. Or use the number keys across the top of the keyboard. Either way, entering numbers from the keyboard is much faster and easier than clicking numbers on the screen with your mouse, so use the keyboard if you can.
4. The Calculator has a “paper tape”
The Calculator has a paper tape which keeps track of what you’ve entered. Find it under the Window menu (or use the shortcut ⌘-T). You can select and copy from the paper tape, print it, or save it. Handy stuff.
5. The Calculator can do conversions
It knows areas, lengths, volumes, temperatures, and a lot more… including currency. So, if you’re going to France and you want to know how many Euros you’ll get for 100 US dollars, use the Calculator and find out.
- Launch Calculator
- Type in “100”
- Select “Currency…” from the “Convert” menu
- Choose the From and the To, then click Convert.
6. Show commas to separate the thousands, millions, and so on
If you want the commas, choose “Show Thousands Separators” from the View menu. They make things more readable so I show the commas.
7. The Calculator can speak the buttons you’ve pressed
The Calculator can speak the buttons you’ve pressed, giving you audible feedback that the button you pressed is the one you wanted to press. Besides being useful to grown-ups this is also fun for the little ones who are just learning their numbers. Look for the Speech menu and choose “Speak Button Pressed.”
That’s all seven. Know another one? Let me know in the comments!Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.
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You can also use the calculator from spotlight! Just type in your calculation and look for the result next to the calculator icon! Complicated strings may be too difficult here, but if you just want to do a quick check on simple math, it's great.
You are absolutely right… and you can also do it in the Google search bar if you happen to have Safari open (or some other browser).
Thank you so much for this post!
Nice article. I learned a few new things!
Thank you! On my Macbook, the Paper tape is accessed from Window menu.
Of course it is! It’s in the Window menu on my Mac too. I’ve corrected the blog post. Thanks!