The Calculator in Windows 7 & Windows 8 - A Tool for the Geek in You!

The new Windows Calculator offers more precise calculations than ever and it also has a new and powerful interface. It now integrates the basic standard calculations with programming, scientific calculations and statistics. Beyond this, there are also other features which are very useful: things like mortgage calculation, a multifunctional converter and a few more options which deserve their share of attention. In this article I will present them one by one and also share some possible usage scenarios.

Where to Find the Calculator in Windows 7 & Windows 8

In Windows 7 you can access it by going to Start Menu - > Accessories -> Calculator.

Windows Calculator

The Calculator can be opened also by typing calculator or calc in the Start Menu search box (in Windows 7) or in the Start screen (in Windows 8) and opening the appropriate search result.

Its executable can be found in this location: "C:\Windows\System32\calc.exe".

To learn all the ways to start Calculator in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, we created a separate guide, that can be read here: Where is the Calculator & How to Find it.

Calculation Modes

Even though it has a different version in Windows 8, compared to Windows 7, the Calculator is the same in both operating systems. The interface looks just the same and its features are identical.

The Calculator has 4 main modes with which you can do calculations:

  • The Standard Mode.
  • The Scientific Mode.
  • The Programming Mode.
  • The Statistics Mode.

In the sections below I will describe each of them and explain what they do and how to use them.

The Standard Mode

When you first open the Calculator, the Standard mode will be selected by default. This mode is the better equivalent of the normal pocket calculator. You can use the keyboard number values, the keypad (with the Num key activated) or the mouse to make calculations.

Windows Calculator

Example: You need to choose the numbers with which you want to do calculations and the operation on those numbers. So, if you were to do a simple multiplication you would click on the first number, the operation ( * multiply sign ) and the second number. At the end of the calculation process you can either continue to add a new operation to that result or click on the equal sign to get the end result.

Windows Calculator

The Programmer Mode

This mode offers the possibility to do operations with bases (binary, octal, hexadecimal, decimal). You can convert values from one base to another. For example, you can convert from a base two number system (binary - 0, 1) to a base ten number system (decimal 0-9). Also, this mode offers to help with logical bit operations (XOR, OR, AND etc).

To access this mode click on the View menu and select the Programmer option.

Windows Calculator

Like previous versions, the keys you use are related to the base. For example, the A - F buttons are only accessible if you check to work in hexadecimal values. The other buttons are or should be already common for a programmer. Ranging through the palette XOR table, % - modulus, shifting and changing from decimal to hexadecimal or binary results. Also, the values you get are shown as integers (natural numbers, meaning 16/3 will equal to 5).

Windows Calculator

Example: If you have to transform a binary value like 1011 to its decimal value you would type the number and simply click on the decimal radio box. Manually, this process would be rather lengthy and probably bring error problems if you don't fully grasp the concept.

Windows Calculator

The Scientific Mode

This mode offers a bit of a smile to any person who pursues mathematical or other scientific calculations. The offering ranges from your basic X to the power of to the more useful cos, sin or pi functions.

Windows Calculator

Example: Like you did before in the standard mode, to do an operation, click on a number, followed by an operation then put the second number.

Windows Calculator

The Statistics Mode

This mode presents options related to the statistics. Although it doesn't have many functions like other modes, they are more than welcomed. You can use functions like sum of numbers, sum of numbers to the power to make statistics calculus.

Windows Calculator

Pressing the C, in the sole case of statistics mode, deletes the current value expressed. The CAD clears all the values from the dataset. The dataset is the list of added numbers. The dataset is the list with which you will perform different operations.

Example:To do an operation in the statistics mode, you have to place the values. Each value after has been typed will be placed in the dataset by clicking the ADD button. After you have placed all the needed values in the dataset list, you can click on the wanted operation.

Windows Calculator

Using History with Calculation Modes

This option goes beyond the useful values kept in memory. It can be used by going to File -> History and it is available for all the modes except the statistics one. The name says it all, however it is more powerful than it sounds. Playing around with complex formulas is made simple. You can do a calculation and, when done, click on the equal to have the result. This will make the result to enter into the History list. If you do another calculation and need the previous result or values from that result you just look up into the list and see those values. This coupled with the fact that you can quickly reedit former calculations makes the calculator surpass any online calculator offering that one might use for commodity. To access this option, make sure you are in a valid mode (all except statistics mode).

Windows Calculator

Other Options in the Calculator

The Calculator calculator now includes other tools that are beyond the scope of the calculation modes. They are more related to everyday necessities. Things like light weight conversion or calculating the distance from one specified day to another one. Going a little further than what you would normally need from a calculator, it also offers to help you with calculating mortgage values, vehicle lease and car consumption.

  • Unit Conversions - This is an option that offers different conversions units (angle, pressure, volume, time etc) and it is really simple to use.

    Windows Calculator

    You have to select the type of transformation (example: Time), the From unit measurement (like Hour), and the To measurement unit (like Second).

  • Windows Calculator

  • Date calculation - Since many people do day calculation for diverse reasons it is great to see it implemented into the program. You can subtract between two days from the calendar or you can personally add or remove days, years (etc) from the date that was set.

    Windows Calculator

    Select the dates (from and to) to see the difference between them. You can also manually type a number of days, months (etc.) to subtract (or add) from a date and to see the final result. This is done by clicking on the 'Calculate the difference between two dates' and selecting the second given option.

  • Windows Calculator

  • Worksheets - These are options offered for real life calculations. Whether you want to calculate mortgage, vehicle lease or car consummation (American or European measurement), the calculator offers it all in the worksheets place.
  • Windows Calculator

Tips and tricks

I am often surprised of how unused some utilities are from a regular calculator. The subject I am referring to is the memory and other useful functions included in a calculator.

  • MC (Memory Clear or Clean) - clears the memory of any stored number leaving only the null or zero number in memory.
  • MR (Memory Reminder or Recalled) - tells the calculator to show the number present in memory.
  • MS (Memory Store or Set) - this takes the number present in the results and stores it in the memory. Previous calculation stored in memory will be deleted.
  • M+ (Add to memory) - formula> value stored in memory + current value = new value stored.
  • M- (Subtract from memory) - formula> value stored in memory - current value = new value stored.
  • C - Clear all calculations that are currently made.
  • CE - Clear entry, meaning clear only the present typed number.

    Windows Calculator

  • The Back Arrow or Backspace - present on Windows Calculator but not present on a pocket calculator. This option deletes the last typed number from the current value. This option can be used by clicking on the Back Arrow or by pressing the Backspace key.
  • Using numerical values from the keyboard makes the calculation faster. You can also use the * key to quickly multiple, the minus key "-", the plus key "+", the divisible by "/" or the equal key "=".
  • Although this has nothing to do with notations, you can click on the Edit-> Copy to copy the value to clipboard.
  • Going to the help page for calculator reveals useful keyboard shortcuts for use with functions or options.

Conclusion

The changes in the way it looks and the options it has, make the Calculator feel like it has been built with quick lightweight functionality in mind. All features work well together and the transitions between options are done very easily. In the end, if you have problems, questions or you just know some great tips and tricks about this tool, don't hesitate to share them with us in a comment.