Using the Terminal For a Better Mac Calculator

Another choice for doing calculations on your Mac is to use the Basic Calculator app inside the Terminal. It has some features that neither the Calculator app, Spotlight nor Siri have like variables, history, customization and more.

Comments: 9 Responses to “Using the Terminal For a Better Mac Calculator”

    Thomas Booker
    1 year ago

    When using terminal, what are the risks that a command or a function can crash the system?

    How risky is it?

    In earlier days there would be a system glitch, and the Apple community would recommend a patch to type in through terminal. What were the chances that a mistype will ripple into the system and crash the computer.

    Thank you for your time.

    1 year ago

    Thomas: When using something like "bc"? None. You are just using a calculator app. But if you mean manipulating files and folders, or tampering with system settings using the Terminal, then there is some, yes. But you wouldn't be doing that unless you knew what you were doing and had a good reason to use the Terminal for it, right?

    1 year ago

    Gary: this might be on the fringe of this topic, but when I started Terminal I see a message I never seen before. This is the message "The default interactive shell is now zsh. To update your account to use zsh, please run `chsh -s /bin/zsh`."
    Is this significant? Anyways, the calculator works great :) thx

    1 year ago

    nick: Some time ago (Catalina?) Apple moved from bash to zsh for the default shell. You can use either, but setting it to zsh will make yours start in zsh like newer Macs would by default.

    1 year ago

    Does it matter which version of MacOS I'm using? When I type bc, I get bc 1.06 Copyright... Free Software Foundation, ...
    Using bc -l, and typing sin(.5) gives an error "Runtime error (func=(main), adr=6): Function sin not defined.
    I'm running Monterey 12.6.2

    1 year ago

    Steve: You do get different versions of bc, yes. Use man bc (like I showed) and see what your version has available is sin isn't there.

    Bob Powell
    1 year ago

    I like many have switched from MacBook to iPad with keyboard. Most of your excellent tutorials are about macs. Maybe something for iPads with keyboard šŸ˜³

    1 year ago

    Bob: The main reason I haven't done videos using the iPad with a keyboard is... I don't have one. I use an iPad mini, which isn't compatible with a Magic Keyboard, which is what I would really need to be using to do a video like that. Kinda ironic since I wrote a best-selling book series on the iPad for many years. But perhaps in the future though.

    Jerry Coleman
    11 months ago

    Thanks. Never knew about bc even though I'm pretty comfortable around a command line. On a related note, when I am using the calculator app, I like to press Command-T, and that will bring up an adding machine tape, so you can view the history of your entries.

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