How to use the calculator hidden in your iPad


There is a full calculator hidden in your iPad, even though Apple has never ported the iPhone Calculator app to its tablets. In fact, there are two.

Here’s how to use them.

Why no iPad calculator app?

Steve Jobs removed the calculator from Apple’s original tablet because it was lame – nothing more than the iPhone app awkwardly enlarged to the size of an iPad.

But that was over a decade ago. What is preventing Cupertino from adding one now? According to Apple’s chief software officer Craig Federighi, the company just wasn’t inspired to make a good one.

How to use Spotlight as an iPad calculator

That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t a calculator in your iPad. There is, and it is a good one. You’ll find it in Spotlight. It’s the tablet’s search engine, but it can also solve any math problem that the iPhone’s calculator app can handle.

To access Spotlight, simply go to your IPad Home Screen, touch the middle of the screen and drag down. A pop-up window will appear with a Search bar at the top.

It’s even easier if you have a keyboard. Just type CMD-SPACE (⌘- SPACE BAR) from any application.

You can enter basic math problems in the search box using the standard symbols + – * /. Or put more complex ones using parentheses. For example, if you need a decline rate, enter (67 – 42) / 67. Or it can tell you the tangent of 87.

Spotlight also works as an iPad calculator.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy / Cult of Mac

One advantage of using Spotlight instead of a calculator app is that you can easily edit complex calculations. For example, put 27 + 19 + 17 + 32 and get 95. But if you realize you meant 91 instead of 19, you can just change the number without starting over.

You can also cut and paste the response into a document. Tap and hold on your calculation result in the Spotlight pop-up window and the option to copy it will appear.

How to use Siri as an iPad calculator

People often laugh at Siri for its stupidity, but Apple’s voice assistant can handle simple calculations. Just ask.

Start with “Hey Siri”. Or, if that’s not enabled, press and hold the button on the top edge of your iPad (or your Home button if your iPad has one) until the Siri pop-up appears.

Then say, “What is 51 divided by 12?” He will answer “4.25”. It’s a convenient, hands-free way to get your math questions answered.

Siri can be used as an iPad calculator.
Siri can also be used as a simple calculator for iPad.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy / Cult of Mac

Bonus: Google

If those two weren’t enough, Google is ready to be your calculator. Open the Safari web browser and enter your math problem in the URL bar at the top of the screen. Submit it and the resulting web page will give the answer.

These can be quite complex: It can handle (19 + 27) / 15, for example.

The resulting web page will also include a fairly comprehensive calculator so that you can enter additional math problems.

With all of these options, a dedicated iPad calculator app starts to seem unnecessary. It might make sense that Apple never made one.


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