How to Use Your Computer's Calculator

By Shea Laverty

The calculator app is one of the basic apps included with Windows 8 and replicates the standard pocket calculator. This app performs basic addition and subtraction, determines the square roots of numbers and calculates percentages. Using other modes, the calculator performs complex calculations including trigonometric functions, statistical analysis and conversions useful in programming such as hexadecimal numbering to binary.

Performing Basic Functions

Step 1

Use the on-screen keypad or numberpad on the keyboard to enter numbers. If you don't have a keypad on your keyboard, you can use the row of number keys at the top of the keyboard to enter numbers.

Step 2

Use the operator keys on the on-screen keypad or the keyboard keypad to perform calculations. Each button relates to a mathematical operation: "+" for addition, "-" for subtraction, "*" for multiplication and "/" for division. There are other buttons as well for other operations, like determining the square root of a number.

Step 3

Select "Scientific" from the View menu to switch to scientific calculator mode. This mode has complex functions, suited to more complicated math and higher operations than the standard calculator mode. Switch to scientific mode by pressing "Alt-2" on the keyboard.

Step 4

Select "Programmer" from the View menu to switch to programmer calculator mode. Programmer mode is a set of additional functions designed for use in computer programming and coding, primarily converting numbers from one type to another. Programmer mode doesn't use decimals, instead it uses only integers and words. Change to programmer mode by pressing "Alt-3" on your keyboard.

Step 5

Select "Statistics" from the View menu to switch to statistical calculator mode. These tools are used to calculate statistical operations with data, such as calculating the sum or average of all entered figures. Each number in the data set must be added to the calculator's data list by clicking the "Add" button before statistical calculations can be made. Pressing the "Alt-4" keyboard shortcut also activates statistics mode.

Using the Memory Function

Step 1

Perform a calculation or enter a number and then click "MS" to store the number in the calculator's memory. The memory function stores any number it is instructed to until you close the calculator app or clear the memory. In this example, 15 has been stored in the memory.

Step 2

Perform another calculation or enter another number and click "M+" to add that number to the stored number. You won't see the sum of the stored number and the number you just added, but the memory retains it. In this example, 55 was added to the 15 stored in the previous step, so the number in the memory is now 70.

Step 3

Click "M-" after entering another number to subtract the amount from the stored number. Again, this won't be shown on-screen, but the subtraction affects the number in the memory. In this example, 20 subtracted from the 70 in memory storage, reduces the number to 50.

Step 4

Click "MR" to recall the stored number. This replaces whatever is currently in the display with the number in storage. You can use MR to check the current number in storage at any time without affecting your ability to change it using M+ or M-.

Step 5

Click "MC" to clear the number from the memory and reset it to zero. Until you store another number using MS, you won't be able to use the M+, M- or MR buttons. The last number displayed remains, but the absence of the "M" symbol on the display indicates that the memory has been cleared.

Tips & Warnings

  • Switch back to standard mode at any time by pressing "Alt-1" on the keyboard. Switching modes deletes the current calculation but doesn't clear calculation history or numbers stored in the memory.
  • The calculator app has a converter mode for converting units of measure, such as converting gallons to liters. Also included is a date calculator for determining the difference between two calendar dates in two formats: in days, months and years and in days only. Pressing "Ctrl-U" and "Ctrl-E" on the keyboard activates converter mode or the date calculator, respectively; both options are also available in the View menu.
  • Worksheets are a tool within the calculator app for determining mortgage payments, vehicle lease payments and fuel economy in miles per gallon and liters per 100 kilometers. These options are found under the Worksheets option in the View menu.
  • Calculation history is a list of calculations performed during the current session, which can be used to adjust the current calculation value or double-check your work. Standard and scientific mode have their own histories, while programmer and statistical modes have no histories. View the calculation history by selecting "History" from the view menu or by pressing "Ctrl-H" on your keyboard.