5:00 am

9 Ways To Perform Basic Calculations On Your Mac

You probably know how to use the Calculator on your Mac. But did you know that there are at least eight more ways to perform basic calculations with the basic software you get with your Mac? Some of these allow you to use complex formulas or easily repeat calculations with different values. See if how many of these are new to you.

Video Transcript (Click to Expand)
Hi, this is Gary. On today's episode let's take a look at different ways you can perform calculations on your Mac.

The most common way to perform calculations on your Mac is to use the Calculator app. You can find it in the Applications folder or you can get to it through Launchpad or Spotlight menu search. I put it in my Dock right here so I can get to it very easily. You can perform simple calculations here just like that.

You can also do more complex things by switching to Scientific or Programmer calculator or stick with the Basic one.

Now an even quicker way to do calculations is to use the Spotlight menu. In addition to searching for something here you can simply type in some numbers. You can see I can add two numbers here very easily. You can even do complex things by using parentheses making this more useful, in some cases, than the calculator app itself.

Now you probably have the three iWork apps. Of course Numbers is the one you would expect to be able to do calculations and you can. As a matter of fact sometimes it is just handy to open up a spreadsheet temporarily to perform calculations. Like you can just put some numbers in here and then type in a simple formula to get a quick sum. You don't even have to use multiple cells. I could just, for instance, in this cell here type = and then put in a formula like that and get an answer.

It is handy to do this because you can then change something and see how it effects the outcome. But it also is great to be able to use these formulas. You can do really complex things like using parentheses or using different functions like sine, cosine, square root, and that kind of thing to get quick calculations. There is no harm in just using this to do some quick calculations and then just quitting and not saving the result if you just want simply to get an answer.

Now what you may not know is that you can perform calculations inside of both Pages and Keynote as well just while you are there. Just create a table inside your document. Again, this can be something you will use just temporarily. In these you can actually do formulas just like you could have done in Numbers. Like that to get an answer. Or typed in a couple of digits like this, 4 + 6 and I'll just do a little formula here and I've got a little mini spreadsheet. So you can definitely perform these quick calculations and then just delete this when you are no longer using it.

Another option, of course, is just to use the calculator in Dashboard. If you go to Dashboard, by default, you have this little calculator here and you can perform really basic calculations in it. You can also go and add other Dashboard widgets and if you search for more widgets you will find there is all sorts of different calculators you can use.

Now the Terminal gives you access to some great Command line tools. One of those is bc for basic calculator. You can do basic calculations in it but you can also do more complex things like that. So there is all sorts of stuff you can do with it if you quit out of it and look at the manual for bc you will come up with all sorts of different information about different things that you can do in it.

You can actually perform calculations lots of different ways in the Terminal. For instance another one you can do it is you can run Ruby. Once you are in the interpretive Ruby environment you can type formulas there as well. If you know Ruby you can actually use the Ruby programming language to do more things with numbers.

Now you can also use your Browser to perform calculations. There are two different ways to do this. One isn't actually using the Browser. It is actually going to use Goggle to do it because if you have Goggle as your default search engine you can type in an equation like this and Goggle will not only give you the answer but then bring up a calculator that you can use here. So you can do fairly complex things and send them off to Goggle and it will give you the answer. Then you can play around with the calculator afterwards.

The other way you can perform calculations is to use the programming language built into your Browser, JavaScript. You can get to an interpreter for that where you can type in commands. First you need this Develop menu here. The way to get that is to go into Safari Preferences. Make sure under Advanced you check off Show Develop Menu in Menu Bar. Then go into that Develop menu here and bring up one of the tools, like say Web Inspector. You are not actually going to use that. You are going to use Console.

Click on Console and when you do that you get this little command line here at the bottom. In the command line you can type in JavaScript commands. These commands can be as simple as a just a simple math equation like that or something more complex. It will give you the answer.

You can also, just like with the Terminal with using bc, you can use the up arrow to go back. You can see I can go back through the previous equations and edit them. So I can do times 5, up arrow, times 6, that kind of thing.

So there are a whole bunch of different ways I can think of to perform calculations on your Mac without having to install anything special. If you can think of some more clever ways to perform calculations leave those solutions in the Comments to this video at MacMost.com.

Comments: 5 Responses to “9 Ways To Perform Basic Calculations On Your Mac”

    Mohammed Alwahhabi
    6/23/14 @ 5:49 am

    I use Microsoft one note to do calculations.

    Bill Apple
    6/26/14 @ 7:15 am

    You mention the ability to use “The Terminal” to do calculations. It looks like a DOS command line to me, someone who’s had a Mac for only about a year, coming from nearly a quarter-century of Windows computers. Could you do a video on what this Terminal is and how/why an average user might exploit it? Thanks.

    7/7/14 @ 5:18 pm

    What about graphing calculators?

      7/8/14 @ 12:30 am

      While graphing calculators, like the one that comes with OS X, are useful for other things, they really aren’t for basic calculations.

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