This article was first published on 2009-05-08. Due to the age of this article, it is included here for archive purposes only.
One of the reasons My First Mac has started the Favorite Things tips is so little gems that make using a Mac great are discovered by everyone. Instant calculations is one of those hidden gems that have been sitting there right before your eyes this whole time. And it’s one click away…
So how do you get to pop in the math calc that you want some quick verification on? Just click the Spotlight icon in the upper right of the menu bar and start typing. As you type, you answer is displayed in real time, so it will adjust to the data you are putting in. Check it out:
And because it’s in your menu bar all the time, you can access this function from any app.
This works for your basic run-of-the-mill calcs. I use it to be sure I get the right number when working on something else. For instance, If I’m laying out a web page and subtracting the width of one column from another, it really comes in handy to verify what I think the answer might be.
Another handy thing is that if you hit Enter with the Calculator line item highlighted, Spotlight will launch the Calculator app. Apple screwed up on launching it cleared rather than with your data from Spotlight, but oh well.
Hidden Calculator app tip #1: Choose Show Paper Tape from the Window menu to get another screen that tracks what you’ve input. I love this for adding many numbers together and checking that I entered it right.
Hidden Calculator app tip #2: Need more power than a standard calculator? Get a Scientific Calculator from the View menu. You can also find a Programmer’s Calculator there too.
Got any other Spotlight tips to share? Let us know in the Comments section below!