Mac tip: Use Spotlight as calculator

For simple math problems, Mac users can get quicker results using Spotlight instead of the calculator.

Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
Matt Elliott
For simple equations, using Spotlight is faster than using the calculator app. Matt Elliott/CNET

Like any modern operating system, Mac OS X includes a calculator app. It loads quickly and can be used for simple formulas, but it's not the fastest way to arrive at a mathematical truth on your Mac. Instead of opening the calculator app, likely by typing some part of "calculator" into the Spotlight search box, and then closing the calculator app when you're done, you can use Spotlight itself as a calculator.

Spotlight can handle slightly more complex equations, too. Matt Elliott/CNET

Just type a mathematical expression into Spotlight, and it will return the answer--as the top result, right in the window. It's best for doing quick arithmetic, using the +, -, *, and / symbols. And for slightly more complex equations, you can use parentheses to set the order of operations. Other functions I found: type "sqrt(256)" to find the square root of a number. Or type "pi" and Spotlight returns the number pi to 10 decimal places.

Pi, to the tenth decimal. Matt Elliott/CNET

Have you used Spotligtht as a calculator? If so, do you have any useful formulas you'd like share? Do so in the comments below.