I don’t know about you, but I do calculations on my Mac every day, several times a day. Because of that, I spent a good deal of time looking for a capable calculator app that could offer what I needed. After checking out several of them, though, I realized that Apple’s own calculator app is not only tremendously capable, but that it also offers a set of neat little features that make it ideal for almost every user.
Here’s what you need to know to make the most out of Apple’s native OS X calculator.
1. The Four Modes of Calculator
This came as quite a surprise to me, but it turns out that the Mac’s Calculator app actually boasts four different modes that might suit you depending on your needs.
The Basic mode delivers the functionality of the most basic calculator. Then we have the Scientific and the Programmer modes, which offer a surprisingly large number of additional functions.
You can toggle between these modes by using the Command + 1, Command + 2 and Command + 3keyboard shortcuts respectively or by clicking on the View menu of the app.
The fourth mode of calculator is the RPN mode. RPN stands for Reverse Polish Notation. With this way of doing math operations, every operator follows all of its operands, resulting in a faster way of getting results depending on which operations you perform.
So, for example, if you want to add two and two, instead of pressing 2 + 2 = you have to press 2 Enter 2 +. It takes a bit getting used to, but once you do it is a very fast method to calculate things.
2. Calculator’s ‘Paper Tape’
The Mac’s Calculator app has one handy feature that is not apparent at first sight: A paper tape that records every operation you perform. Even better, you can manage data from it by copying it, saving it or you can just print it all for your records.
You can find the option to show the paper tape on the Window menu of the app or you can bring it up by using the Command + T shortcut alternatively.
To manage the data from the paper tape as mentioned above, click on the File menu at the top of the screen.
3. Calculator as a Conversion Tool
Besides the basic (and a few quite advanced) math operations, the Mac Calculator can also perform a series of conversions, including units such as Area, Power, Length and even Currencies (although you will have to update the app’s exchange rate for that particular one).
All conversions can be accessed from the Convert menu at the top of the screen.
Cool Tip: There is no default way to assign the Calculator app to a keyboard shortcut to open it. However, you can accomplish this by using the Better Touch Tools app that we mentioned in this entry.
And that’s about it. So, if you are looking for a very capable calculator on your Mac, don’t make the same mistake I made and take a look at Apple’s default offering. You might be surprised at everything it can do.