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Calculator (Apple)

Stable release
macOS: 10.16
Operating systemClassic Mac OS, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS

Calculator is a basic calculator application made by Apple Inc. and bundled with its macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and watchOS operating systems. It has three modes: basic, scientific, and programmer. The basic mode includes a number pad, buttons for adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, as well as memory keys. Scientific mode supports exponents and trigonometric functions. The macOS version of Calculator also has a programmer mode that gives the user access to more options related to computer programming.[1]

The Calculator program has a long associated history with the beginning of the Macintosh platform, where a simple four-function calculator program was a standard desk accessory from the earliest system versions. Though no higher math capability was included, third-party developers provided upgrades, and Apple released the Graphing Calculator application with the first PowerPC release (7.1.2) of the Mac OS, and it was a standard component through Mac OS 9. Apple also ships a different application with macOS called Grapher for this purpose.[2]

A calculator function has been included with iOS since its launch on iPhone[3] and iPod Touch.[4] However, iPads have never had a first party calculator application, until the announcement of iPadOS 18 in 2024. A native calculator function was added to the Apple Watch with watchOS 6, which included a dedicated button for calculating tips.[5]


Calculator has Reverse Polish notation support, and can also speak the buttons pressed and result returned.

The calculator also includes some basic conversion functions to convert between units in the following categories:

  • Area
  • Currency (exchange rates may be updated over the Internet)[6]
  • Energy or Work
  • Temperature
  • Length
  • Speed
  • Pressure
  • Weight/Mass
  • Power
  • Volume

Since the release of Mac OS X Leopard, simple arithmetic functions can be calculated from the Spotlight feature.[7] They include the standard addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division operations, with exponentiation and the use of the percent sign to denote percentage.

A Dashboard Calculator widget was included in all versions of macOS from Mac OS X Tiger onwards until Mojave, after which Dashboard was discontinued. It only has the basic mode of its desktop counterpart. With the release of OS X Yosemite, unit conversion functions were added to the Spotlight calculator,[8] as well as a simple calculator widget available in the Notification Center.[9]


The Mac OS Calculator as it shipped in 1984, with System 1

The Calculator appeared first as a desk accessory in first version of Macintosh System for the 1984 Macintosh 128K. Its original incarnation was developed by Chris Espinosa and its appearance was designed, in part, by Steve Jobs when Espinosa, flustered by Jobs's dissatisfaction with all of his prototype designs, conceived an application called The Steve Jobs Roll Your Own Calculator Construction Set that allowed Jobs to tailor the look of the calculator to his liking. Its design was maintained with the same basic math operations until the final release of classic Mac OS in 2001.[10]

Lack of an iPad version

The Calculator app was not available on Apple's iPad tablet until June 10, 2024. In 2020, when asked about it by American tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Apple software chief Craig Federighi responded that Apple had not found a design that would "do justice" to the iPad's screen size.[11] In 2022, the Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern asked Apple marketing chief Greg Joswiak, who responded: "There are a ton of them. Go to the App Store."[12][13] A jailbreak tweak named "Belfry" was able to unofficially install the app, along with every other iPhone-only application on an iPad in early 2012.[14] During WWDC 2024, a new version of the Calculator app for iPadOS was announced, including new features such as compatibility with the Apple Pencil.


  1. ^ Moore, Matt (October 18, 2021). "4 Useful macOS Calculator Features". MUO. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  2. ^ "Getting Started With Grapher, Your Mac's Built-in Graph Tool". Computer Skills Envato Tuts+. April 8, 2013. Archived from the original on March 18, 2017. Retrieved September 17, 2022.
  3. ^ Thurrott, Paul (June 29, 2017). "10 Years Later: My Original (and Epic) Apple iPhone Review". Thurrott. Archived from the original on June 29, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  4. ^ Bangeman, Eric (September 17, 2007). "The iPod meets the iPhone: a review of the iPod Touch". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  5. ^ Bouchard, Anthony (June 4, 2019). "Apple finally brings a native Calculator app to the Apple Watch in watchOS 6". Archived from the original on January 24, 2021. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  6. ^ "How to Convert Currency in Mac OS X with Calculator App". OS X Daily. June 26, 2012. Archived from the original on June 17, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  7. ^ "Use Spotlight as a Calculator in Mac OS X". OS X Daily. November 4, 2009. Archived from the original on December 22, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  8. ^ Cunningham, Andrew (July 23, 2014). "Preview: A closer look at OS X Yosemite, just in time for the public beta". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on June 27, 2020. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
  9. ^ Snell, Jason (October 16, 2014). "OS X Yosemite: New Notification Center finally gives widgets their due". Macworld. Archived from the original on April 11, 2021. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  10. ^ Isaacson, Walter (2011). Steve Jobs. Simon & Schuster. p. 132. ISBN 978-1-4516-4853-9.
  11. ^ Lohmann, Simon (June 30, 2020). "Apple's Federighi talks third-party default apps and Siri in iOS 14". Macworld. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  12. ^ Rossignol, Joe (October 26, 2022). "Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Interview About USB-C iPhone and More Now Available on YouTube". MacRumors. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  13. ^ Fathi, Sami (October 25, 2022). "Craig Federighi and Greg Joswiak Discuss USB-C on iPhone, iMessage on Android, Lack of iPadOS Calculator App, Pace of Innovation, and More". MacRumors. Retrieved June 1, 2023.
  14. ^ "Install Apple's Stock iPhone Apps on Your Jailbroken iPad with Belfry | Cult of Mac".
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