Advanced Spotlight Math

You can do a lot more than just simple addition and multiplication in Spotlight. You can use parenthesis to set the order of operations. You can use functions and symbols to do trigonometry and logarithms. You can use powers and roots, and even scientific notation. You can even do factorials, percentages and trig functions using degrees instead of radians.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: Advanced Spotlight Math.

You probably already know that you can do math using Spotlight on your Mac. Just Command Space. It brings up Spotlight and instead of doing a search you can type something like 1+2 and you get an answer. But there's a lot more that you can do. You can get really complex here. Much more so that you can do with a calculator. That's because, in addition to using plus, minus and then say slash for divide and an asterisk for multiply, you can also use parentheses. For instance that will change the order of operations there and you get (1+2)*2 or 4 or whatever. You can use parentheses as much as you want. You can nest them as much as you want to do complex calculations that are difficult to do on a calculator.

In addition you can do functions. You may already know that. For instance you can do like a sine function. You get an answer with that. These are pretty basic things. There's some more things that you may not know that you can do in Spotlight. For instance you can use sqrt to get the square root. You can do that with any kind of number you want. There's even one for cube root, cbrt. Now you can use the caret symbol, which on American keyboards is Shift 6. So I can say 2^3 for instance. Or I can say 2.7^of 3.1. So you can easily get things raised to a power. If you know math you know you can also do fractions. We can do those by putting those in parentheses right there. So to get the cube root of 27 I can just simply do 1/ 3. Notice how I got a little autocorrect there. So I'll go back and change that to make sure I get it. Of course that would only happen with and ⅓ because that's an autocorrect thing.

Now you can do even more than this. So, for instance, you can use percentages. If I wanted to calculate say the amount of tip on a bill that's $39.74 I can multiply it by say .2 to get twenty percent. But I could also just do 20% and it will give me the same answer. This will resolve then to .2. As a matter of fact if I just do 20% you can see there it gives me the answer there. You can also use the percent symbol for modulus or mod which is something that, you know, divides and takes the remainder. So for instance 29%3 gives me 2 and that's the remainder when you divide by 3. 30 is zero and 31 is one. So that's something that some people use and others may never use.

You can also do factorials. So for instance I can do 3! factorial; 4! factorial. You can even use fact for that as well. You can also multiple numbers by tenth to the power of something. So you would commonly see that as written say something like this. 6.7*10^5. 6.7 times 10 to the power of 5. That will add five zeros to it. But you can do that a lot easier by just using E. 6.7E5. You have to use a capital E. You could do negative 5 there as well. So for scientific calculations that's very handy.

You have logs. You've got base ten logs using log(9). You've got base natural logarithm using ln. If you wanted to get the base natural log, the E, you can use (e) but you need to put it in parentheses because e by itself is just a letter and it's going to try to do a search. So you can do that. Speaking of constants you also have the constant pi but pi you also put inside of parentheses there. Of course if you're already doing something in parentheses you can not worry about adding extra parentheses to it.

Now one of the most useful things for me in trying to help my student to do homework was doing things like trigonometric functions but trigonometric functions all work with radiants, not with degrees, and a lot of times you need to use degrees. So you put degrees in there you're not going to get the right answer because it's expecting radiants. However append the letter d to any trigonometric function, like sine, cosine, tangent, r tangent, anything you want and it will then give you the result as if this was degrees. So just remember to add a d there.

Now while you don't have the memory functions you have from a normal calculator or even the calculator app you can use Copy and Paste. In order to do that you can copy but you would actually be copying the function here. So if I copy and then cleared it out and then paste it I get the function back. Which is fine because the result is the same and I can use this formula. If I double click on this it actually opens up Calculator. But if I double click here it selects it. Now you can copy with Command C. Then I go into here and I delete. If I paste you see I get the result. So I can use the buffer to Copy and then Paste a result in and use that as a memory function.

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