Windows

Discover the hidden gems found in the Windows 7 calculator

Check out some of the new features found hidden in the menu tree of the Microsoft Windows 7 calculator applet, you may be surprised.

Admittedly, the standard calculator application found in every version of the Microsoft Windows operating system since the beginning is not usually considered sexy, but the new version found in Windows 7 earns props for adding real value. Check out some of the new features found hidden in the menu tree of this often-taken-for-granted free applet.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download and as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

The Hidden

The Calculator app is located in its typical spot in the Start Menu -- under Accessories. Of course, the easiest way to get to the application is to type "calc" in the Start Menu search box, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Starting the calculator
Click on the Calculator application icon, and you will get the familiar standard view shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The standard calculator format
Click on the View menu item (Figure C), and one of the first things you should notice is that there are a plethora of new options available besides the Standard and Scientific modes of the past, including the new Programmer (Figure D) and Statistics (Figure E) modes.

Figure C

View menu

Figure D

Programmer mode

Figure E

Statistics mode
History is a feature I have wanted for a long time (Figure F). The ability to get what amounts to calculator tape appeals to the accountant in me.

Figure F

History
But where the real feature changes have taken place are in the lower levels of the View menu. Figure G reveals the conversion feature, where you can convert one kind of unit of measurement into another unit of measurement. The categories of units you can convert range from angle to weight/mass.

Figure G

Conversion
The Date calculation will tell you how many days separate two dates. Yes, that is a lot of days (Figure H).

Figure H

Date calculation
Under the Worksheets menu item (Figure I), you see four additional worksheets for calculating:
  • Mortgages
  • Vehicle leases
  • Fuel economy in miles
  • Fuel economy in kilometers

Figure I

Worksheets
I have been using Web sites to calculate the mortgages on my dream houses in the past, but now I can dream without involving the Internet (Figure J).

Figure J

Mortgage calculation

Take advantage

The unadvertised enhancements to the standard calculator applet that comes with Windows 7 have raised the usefulness of this ubiquitous program tenfold. Check out the new features, and you just might end up pinning it to your desktop.

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About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

42 comments
tgfj
tgfj

2+3*5=17 in scientific mode, 2+3*5=25 in standard mode, I'd like to know why this very old method of electronic calculating is still used, I thought it went years ago. Apart from that the calculator is quite handy, I've put a shortcut onto my desktop to save me rummaging in the draw for my calculator.

TuneUp Utilities
TuneUp Utilities

I?m sure these were hidden for many as most people I know use the calculators built into their cell phones instead since, as you say, not much has ever been really enticing about the Windows version, but this looks pretty cool! What?s your favorite new feature?

vinala
vinala

A calculator that looks like the mac version, how unique. I can count on Windows to eventually copy the Mac. It does take a while though......

rosenpeter5
rosenpeter5

If it had an HP40-CV mode then I'd be really excited.

Sahid59
Sahid59

It is too overhelming to use this fantastic calculator ....when I trun my PC in to a castle of windows 7 .... Thanks for your great tips...

pmoffett
pmoffett

All of that effort and still no RPN? I would even pay (a little) for an RPN option!

fiosdave
fiosdave

I was disappointed to find that the calendar only goes back to January 1,1601. I wanted to find how many days since Columbus landed here in the U.S! I guess the Brits are also upset that you can't do the same for the Magna Carta...

patbaldridge
patbaldridge

Waiting for the graphing calculator (like TI-84)

Oldmanmike
Oldmanmike

This is good to see. I have been a big fan of Moffsoft free calculator (www.moffsoft.com) because of the history option, similar to the paper tape option of old. I still prefer the Moffsoft version of history, as each entry is a separate line, making it easier to double-check a long list of additions. Where the Win7 calculator wins is in options like stats, conversions, etc.

elrico-fantastica
elrico-fantastica

would have been nice.. i always have a subnet calculator installed to save time when consulting. if they could add a subnet option to the win7 calc its another icon i could clear off the desktop...

twinjenz
twinjenz

I havent used this Calculator much but I think the one that Ubuntu has is of a decent size and easy to read.

hermankellerman
hermankellerman

WOW Great - never even look at it and it it is just great!!!!

dogknees
dogknees

Since when is the content of a menu considered hidden? Hidden things are those that you can't get to through the standard interface.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Like you probably, I have taken the Windows calculator for granted as quick and dirty way to do some math, but now that it has several more sophisticated functions, it may be time to reevaluate. Do you find yourself using the Windows 7 calculator more than you did with Vista and XP?

Another Canadian
Another Canadian

A calculator is a calculator and why MS should make it ugly, for years Apple has made a point in TV advertising that MS was way ugly and cumbersome etc, you know what I don't see any of that of we are way better anymore on Apple versus Win 7 past the usual beginning of do not trust MS and trust Apple so please don't give use the copying winning here and why you are not happy about concurrence that is anyway benefit you and me and not only Apple or Microsoft. Now if anyone add nice color and design this is now consider copyright? Because if that so we just have surrender to Apple and be done with the freedom of choice and just go AAC for music format or WMA and no MP3 anymore I guess. What a joke your comment is. How about Apple that did copy Creative MP3 player and make it more convenient? should the concept of playing on a portable been lock to the first one that created the "MP3" Player because if that is the truth well there will no iPod also, talk about copying here.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I called it up and played briefly with it. Without thinking, I did a RPN-ish operation and the calculator handled it fine. Don't have much use for it, though. End of time? Black-hole singularities? Beginning of time? I do these things in my head.

wbranch
wbranch

Also worth noting you can't go past 12/31/9999. I think we have a Y10K problem we need to be preparing for :)

jgeorge12001
jgeorge12001

For Windows XP and older versions (maybe Vista too, but I don't know) MS had a nice graphing calculator app available as a Power Toy. You can't get it now for Windows 7, unfortunately. Perhaps it will be a Power Toy available for Win 7 in the future, but I'm not holding my breath.

neil.wright
neil.wright

What was the point of sharing that with us? I this was a an Abountu site it may have had at least a modicum of relevance but right now, 4/5's of 5/8's of.....

BillDodd
BillDodd

OK, is it .Net ? or Assembler or HP?

BrucePurcell
BrucePurcell

Not exactly "hidden". But, if you're like me and didn't know the features were there, you wouldn't go looking for them most likely. I don't go chasing new features in old utilities that weren't of much value. So, these features were "hidden" to me until now. Also have to say I'm impressed -- I can say goodbye to all those spreadsheets I've maintained over the years.

TrueDinosaur
TrueDinosaur

I could see a great use for a command line option where the results are stored as an environment variable! calc 01/01/2010 03/15/2010 DAYS would result in DAYS being set to 73

allanrockwell
allanrockwell

Let me complain, just this: Corporate hierarchies are obsessed with efficiency because they are inherently ...inefficient :: Now, why would it be so hard to think outside the box? -A little ? :: -This calculator should have been implemented in 1995! After all what is 'computing' ? -This calc is still an emulator. Of all possible features (graphing, RPN, etc.) I think it should at least offer the possibility to -copy/paste and reintroduce previously calculated data, -delete some entries in the history, -enter data as if writing on a blank page. EDIT: I stand almost corrected... The Edit options work a little like I tought they should... Hey! i'm just an artist. (sorry i don't know how to move my Re: at the end of the line-up)

gordon
gordon

I don't think I've missed it but I do not see the litres-per-100km to miles-per-gallon conversion that almost anyone with friends overseas needs. Fortunately you can type "convert 7 litres per 100km to miles per gallon" into the Google searchg bar and it will do the job.

zookeeperz
zookeeperz

Any calculator that doesn't have the option to stay on top of other windows is useless for my work.

ben@channells
ben@channells

What excellent features, Ive just calucalted by Ford puma is doing 50 MPG. Here in the petrol is sold in liters but fuel economy is still in miles per gallon ?30 of petrol at ?1.09 per liter is 27.3 liters used the calc to convert to galons: Six galons used the calc for fule economy in mpg 300 miles using 6 gallons is 50 mpg. Before you do a google search my Ford Puma is a 1.6 liter sports cope and clearly not an american gas guzzler

Ron_007
Ron_007

just think of the gazillions lines of COBOL code that will still be running 8,000 years from now.

TrueDinosaur
TrueDinosaur

If you listen to the Mayans we don't have to worry past 12/2012. Or if you listen to Gore after 2012 but well before 12/31/9999

dogknees
dogknees

It suddenly occurred to me when thinking about this why I dislike web-style interfaces so much. You can't easily find all the functionality in most as they have no consistent menu or ribbon structure or normal dialog boxes with Cancel buttons so you can safely explore. So, my method of learning fails dismally.

dogknees
dogknees

I guess I'm different. The very first thing I do with a new version of anything is work through all the menus, dialogs, More buttons and advanced options to see what's new/changed. That's why I get frustrated with the endless "hidden feature" and "secret option" discussions frustrating. I'm looking for the stuff that really is hidden. The stuff you can't find in a menu or dialog. Generally the stuff that isn't in the Help either.

meski.oz
meski.oz

Would be a first-year project. Preferably RPN - or just use a Forth interpreter.

SirWizard
SirWizard

For me, a calculator that does not include RPN capability is worthless. Algebraic calculators are for children and the great unwashed masses who have nothing more complicated to do than evaluate their gas mileage--trivial to do anyway with your slide rule. Persons who aren't familiar with Reverse Polish Notation (simply postfix on a stack) and its great virtues should take the small effort required to understand it, or the smaller effort to simply use it. To use an RPN calculator, work from inside the deepest nested parentheses, the same as with a pencil and paper: 1. Type a number into the calculator. 2a. If you have enough numbers to perform the desired operation, execute that operation. 2b. If you need more numbers, press ENTER and go to step 1. No multiplication-versus-addition-versus-exponentiation hierarchies to worry about, and you get to see every intermediate answer. For example, what is ((5.55 / 1.3875) x (square-root of 169)) 5.55 ENTER 1.3875 / [showing 4] 169 square-root [showing 13] x [showing the final answer: 52] Even stupid people can do that. Have I gotten anybody angry, yet?! (Only stupid people.) Seriously, I use the great Excalibur 32 RPN (only) calculator. It's got numerous scientific, statistics, business, conversion, geometry, computer science, physics, and complex vector capabilities. It's the 800-pound gorilla on steroids of calculators, and it's also programmable. But it has the great ease of use that's characteristic of all RPN calculators. It has a small memory footprint and doesn't need to install anything--no DLLs or registry entries. Just keep the help file in the same folder as the small executable. It works under Windows NT / 2000 / XP / Vista / 7. You should be happy to pay for it, even if it cost a bundle, but it's FREEWARE. That fits everyone's budget. Excalibur 32 RPN (2.0) is available at http://www.softpedia.com/get/Science-CAD/Excalibur.shtml FREE! Disclosure: I have absolutely no personal stake in the Excalibur calculator. I'm just a user who is hyper-happy to have it available. So, tell me again: Why should I get excited about the Microsoft calculator?

oligodude
oligodude

I totally agree with that!!! This has ever been the fatal flaw of an otherwise useful little gadget.

santeewelding
santeewelding

If you mess with imaginary z-axis projections.

meski.oz
meski.oz

How about using one of the applets that let you toggle stay on top for any of your apps? Google "stay on top"

victor.gutzler
victor.gutzler

As long as it gets me from point A to point B in relative comfort and safety, I'll take a gander at the Ford Puma. I bought a Toyota Corolla 5 years ago (still gets 36mpg) hoping it would last 10 years, but now it is starting to need big ticket maintenance. If Japan is starting to make cars like Detroit, then I might as well consider domestic at a cheaper price (disposable cars, maybe leasing is an option)....

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