Why Mac users need the PCalc app

macOS includes its own Calculator program, which works well, but the PCalc app adds important features needed by regular users and math experts.


Figure A

Image: TLA System Ltd.

Sure, the Mac's free Calculator app works well, but TLA System Ltd.'s PCalc includes numerous functions complemented by important additional features that make the $9.99 upgrade worthy of consideration for every macOS user. In fact, PCalc (Figure A) may well prove to be the app you didn't know you need.

Whether you're balancing a budget, calculating interest, forecasting profit or loss, or performing more complex mathematical operations, as is common for scientific, financial, industrial, engineering, and programming professionals, PCalc's functionality goes far beyond that of the macOS Calculator. In addition to offering the same scientific, programming, Reverse Polish Notation (RPN) mode, and so-called paper tape capabilities as Calculator, PCalc adds a litany of complex functions.

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Here are some of PCalc's features:

  • Customizable button layout
  • Extensive conversion capabilities
  • Editable conversions that synchronize across multiple layouts
  • Smart searching of conversions, functions, and constants
  • A Notification Center widget
  • Design and appearance themes
  • Dark Mode support
  • AppleScript support

Using PCalc, you can also right-click and copy values displayed within its calculator and right-click and paste those values directly into another source, such as a spreadsheet or a document. For me, this is one of PCalc's greatest features. While Calculator supports using Command+C and Command+V cut-and-paste functions to perform the same actions, you can't right-click and copy-and-paste directly out of Calculator, which often prevents having to add another hand to the process--an ergonomic action with cost--especially when working with numerous figures throughout the course of a single day.

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What does it mean if you're performing "scientific" and "programmer" calculations? Both calculators support performing octal, decimal, and hexadecimal calculations and working with fractions, exponents, roots, and trigonometry operations. PCalc also integrates with the macOS Notification Center ( Figure B).

Figure B

Image: TLA System Ltd.

Plus, you can heavily customize the program. Vast preferences settings permit adjusting decimal spaces displayed using various preset environments, such as Normal, Scientific, Engineering, Accounting, and Fraction. You can elect to save multiple values in memory, extensively adjust display and theme configurations, create and configure a vast range of keyboard shortcuts, set layout presets based on device (iPad, iPad mini, iPad splitscreen, iPhone, and Mac), and add and adjust functions, conversions, and constants.

Even if the most complex mathematical works you complete each month consist of just balancing a checking account and updating a budget, PCalc's design, layout, and Notification Center options justify the program's cost. The ability to quickly interact and move data in and out of the calculator, while adjusting its appearance to match your preferred desktop environment, left me wondering why I didn't invest $10 in the program earlier in my Mac life.

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