Calculator

Updated: 08/16/2021 by Computer Hope

A calculator may refer to any of the following:

1. Calc is the name of the spreadsheet program used in OpenOffice.

Windows Calculator

2. A Calculator is an electronic hardware device or software capable of performing mathematical calculations, such as addition, multiplication, subtraction, or division. The Casio Computer Company developed the first electronic calculator in 1957. Since then, calculators have come in many sizes and are built into most operating systems on computers, smartphones, and tablets. The picture is an example of the Calculator program included in every version of Microsoft Windows.

Note

When describing using a calculator, the terms calculate, calculated, or calculating may be used.

How are numbers entered in a calculator?

On a computer, to enter numbers in the calculator, use the numeric keypad. If the numeric keypad numbers are not working, press the Num Lock key. For laptops or computers without a numeric keypad, the numbers above the top row keys can be used.

How to open the calculator

Tip

Some keyboards have a calculator button you can press to open the calculator without following the steps below.

Opening the calculator in Windows 10

Users running Microsoft Windows can access the calculator by following the steps below.

  1. Click Start.
  2. In the programs list, find and click the Calculator program.

or

  1. Click Start.
  2. Type calc and press Enter.
  3. or

    1. Using only your keyboard, press the Windows key.
    2. Type calc and press Enter.

    or

  1. Press the shortcut keys Windows key+X.
  2. In the Power User Task Menu, click the Run option.
  3. Type calc and press Enter.
Tip

Once the calculator is open, see our Windows calculator tips section for further tips.

Opening the calculator in Windows 8

  1. Access the Windows Start screen.
  2. Type calc and press Enter.

Opening the calculator in Windows 95 to Windows 7

  1. Click Start.
  2. In the Start menu, click All Programs or Programs.
  3. In the programs list, click the Accessories folder.
  4. Select the Calculator program.

    or

  1. Click Start.
  2. In the Start menu, click the Run option.
  3. Type calc and press Enter.

Opening the calculator on an Apple Mac

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click the Applications option under Favorites in the left navigation menu.
  3. Find and double-click the Calculator icon in the list of applications on the right.

    or

  1. Press Command + spacebar to open Spotlight.
  2. In the Spotlight Search window, type calculator and press Enter.

Opening the calculator in the Linux command line

In Linux and Unix, users can run the bc command or dc command to open the calculator from the command line.

Windows calculator tips

Tip

By default, the Windows Calculator is set to Standard mode. You can change the calculator to scientific mode for additional functionality. In Windows 10, the mode can be changed by clicking the hamburger menu near the top-left corner of the calculator window and selecting Scientific. In Windows 8 and earlier, click View in the top menu, then select Scientific.

Tip

The Windows 10 calculator has a converter to convert currency, volume, length, weight and mass, temperature, energy, area, speed, time, power, data, pressure, and angle. All these converters are in the hamburger menu.

Tip

By default, in Windows 8 and earlier, digit grouping in the Windows Calculator is disabled. Enabling this feature displays commas for large quantities. For example, instead of 10000000, it displays 10,000,000. To enable this feature, click View in the top menu and select the Digit grouping option.

In Windows 10, the Calculator uses digit grouping by default.

In Windows 7 and later, Microsoft includes a more sophisticated calculator. As shown below, several new features not available in previous versions of Windows are highlighted. Additional information and tips on this calculator are on our Windows 7 Calculator tips page.

Windows 7 calculator

Information about calculator buttons

The following list is a brief description of each button found on most calculators, in addition to the 0 through 9 numbers.

Tip

Many of the buttons mentioned below may not be available with basic calculators. If you're working with a software calculator, like the Microsoft Windows calculator, you can switch to scientific view to show more options.

+

The plus (+) is a math operation that performs the addition of two numbers.

-

The minus (-) is a math operation that performs the subtraction of one number from another.

+/-

A key with plus and minus is used to make a number positive or negative. For example, if you enter "10" and then press this button, it becomes "-10."

/ or ÷

The forward slash (/) or divide (÷) is a math operation to divide one number by another.

* or X

The asterisk (*) or X is a math operation to multiply one number by another.

.

The period (.) is used to create a decimal number (e.g., 1.2).

=

The equal sign (=) is used to get the result of the calculation. For example, if you enter "5+5," to get the total of "10," you need to press the equal sign.

Tip

On a software calculator, you can press Enter to get a total without pressing the = button.

%

Enter a percentage of a number.

()

The left and right parentheses are used to handle the order of operation in an equation.

The square root button gives you the square root of a number.

Π

Get Pi value (3.14159...), up to the number of digits the calculator supports.

1/x

The 1/x button places the number as the denominator (bottom) of a fraction and adds a "1" as the numerator (top). For example, if you enter "2" in the calculator and then press this button, the value becomes ½, which the calculator shows in decimal form as 0.5.

A b/c

The A b/c button allows you to insert various values for an integer and exponents.

AC

AC is short for "all clear" and is a button to clear all calculations back to 0. If the calculator is off, this button may also turn on the calculator. For software calculators, this button may be C instead of AC.

Back arrow

Erase the last number entered in the calculator. Similar to the backspace on a computer.

C

C is short for "clear" and is a button used to clear all last numbers and totals. Calculators that have this key may also have a CE button (mentioned below).

Tip

With computer software calculators, you can press the Esc to clear all values.

CE

Short for "cancel entry" or "clear entry," CE is a button to clear the last number entered. Calculators with this key also have a C button used to clear everything.

Note

With some calculators, the CE button may not be visible until something is entered in the calculator. Some calculators may also change the C to a CE button as numbers are entered.

COS, SIN, HYP, and TAN

COS (cosine), Sin (Sine), HYP (hyperbolic), and TAN (tangent) are all used in trigonometric equations.

e

Euler's number (e) is an irrational mathematical number approximately equal to 2.71828 and helps find slopes in Calculus and when working with compound interest.

EXP

Short for "exponential," the EXP button is used to make entering larger numbers easier. For example, if you enter "1" and press the EXP button, the calculator shows "1.e+0" as the value. To make this number longer, enter "9" to change the calculator to "1.e+9," which is 1 with nine zeros following it (1,000,000,000), or one billion.

Log

Short for "logarithm," the log button gives you the power a number must be raised to get another number. For example, using a base-ten logarithm, if 100 is the number displayed on the calculator and you press the log button, it returns 2. The number 2 is shown because when used as an exponent of 10 (102), it equals 100.

M

Display the numbers stored in memory.

M+ / M-

M+ is short for "memory add" and adds the current number displayed to the value stored in memory. For example, if the memory has "5" and the calculator is showing "5," pressing this button makes the memory "10." M- is short for "memory subtract" and subtracts the number displayed from the value stored in memory.

Tip

With the Windows calculator, pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+P performs the M+ function. Pressing Ctrl+Q performs the M- function.

MC

Short for "memory clear," MC is used to clear numbers stored in memory.

Tip

With the Windows calculator pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+L performs this function.

MR or RCL

Short for "memory recall" or "recall," MR or RCL is used to recall numbers stored in memory.

Tip

With the Windows calculator, pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+R performs this function.

MS or MIN

Short for "memory store," MS, or MIN on some calculators, stores to memory what is being shown by the calculator. Using the calculator's memory is helpful when you need the calculator to remember a number you use frequently. For example, you could store your local tax percentage to use with all your transaction calculations.

Tip

With the Windows calculator, pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+M performs this function.

n!

Factorial (fact) button that performs the function of multiplying every number below the number entered. For example, if "5" is the value of the calculator and you press the "n!" button, it returns "120" as a result. This result is determined by the calculator doing "5x4x3x2x1," which equals "120."

DEG, RAD, and GRAD

DEG (degrees), RAD (radians), and GRAD (gradian) are buttons used to help calculate the measurements of angles.

RAND

Short for "random," RAND enters a random number.

X2

The square (sqr) button (X2) calculates the square of the number currently being displayed. For example, if you enter "5" and press this button, you get "25" (5x5).

X3

The cube button (X3) calculates the cube of the number currently being displayed. For example, if you enter "5" and press this button, you get "125" (5x5x5).

Abacus, Add, Compute, Keypad, Software terms, Tabulator