Calculator’s 7 hidden features
Mac Tip #446, 21 July 2010
Apple’s Calculator.app has some interesting, if hidden, features. Check these out.
The standard Calculator screen is very basic: add, subtract, divide and multiply, using the Memory functions if you need to.
One nifty feature is that Calculator can speak the keys you press, and the result. Go to the
Speech menu and check
Speak Button Pressed and
Speak Result. Provided you have the volume up, you’ll hear each number and operation key you press, and the result of the calculation. It’s very handy as a check on what you’re doing.
Show Paper Tape
Not sure if you pressed 4 instead of 3? Once you’ve pressed a second button you have no record of what came before. That’s where the Paper Tape comes in: it keeps track of everything you did. Choose
Show Paper Tape from the
Window menu. A new window appears that displays the result and the operations that led to it.
Save the Paper Tape as a text file by choosing
Save Tape As… from the
Separate the thousands
If you’d like it to, Calculator can use the System default Thousands Separator when you have those larger numbers. Choose
Show Thousands Separators from the
In my case it adds a comma, as that’s what we use in New Zealand. If you’re in a European country it should show a dot.
To change the Thousands Separator go to
System Preferences >
Language & Text >
Formats. Click the
Customize… button beside the
Numbers section. A window appears where you can select separators for Numbers and Currency.
How many decimal places?
You may or may not need accuracy to several decimal places. Set any number of decimal places from 0 to 15 by choosing the
Decimal Places item from the
Scientific, Programmer and RPN modes
Quite honestly, my maths isn’t up to being able to use advanced modes on the Calculator, but they are there if you need them. Look under the
Help menu for information about RPN mode.
If you choose
Programmer mode the Calculator totally changes its appearance to include the various keys you need, with a larger display area.
Tell us in the Comments at the website your favourite Calculator features.