Performing Complex Calculations Using the Scientific Calculator

by Barry Dysert
(last updated December 11, 2017)

There are several calculators that come with Windows. Their capabilities range from performing simple calculations (like add, subtract, multiply, and divide) to more complicated calculations (like trigonometric functions, logarithms, and exponentiation). You can even perform certain conversions with the calculators, perform mortgage analyses, and work with dates.

To start the calculator (even though there are several calculators, they are technically different views of one "super" calculator), click Start | All Programs | Accessories | Calculator if you are using Windows 7. Since many people use the numeric keypad with Calculator (instead of the mouse), you may find it easier to just press the Windows key on your keyboard, type "calc" (without the quotes), and press Enter.

If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, finding the calculator can be a bit more vexing. The easiest way is to simply use Windows' search capabilities to search for "calculator." The app that is located will be the calculator you want to run.

The type of calculator that appears depends on the type of calculator that was used last. This tip is specific to the Scientific calculator, so whichever way you invoke it you'll see the following:

The type of calculator that appears depends on the type of calculator that was used last. This tip is specific to the Scientific calculator, so the calculator you see should look similar to this if you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The Scientific calculator in Windows 10.

If you are using Windows 7, then the Scientific calculator looks a bit different. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. The Scientific calculator in Windows 7.

If another type of calculator appears, click the three lines near the upper-left corner to get to the proper calculator (in Windows 8 or Windows 10) or, in Windows 7, click View | Scientific.

You can use the mouse to click the on-screen keys, or you can use the keyboard to cause the corresponding button to be pressed. (For buttons not on the keyboard you must use the mouse.) The Scientific calculator uses operator precedence like what you learned in school (i.e., how multiplication and division are performed before addition and subtraction). So, for example, if you enter 3 + 2 * 4 = you'll get the answer 11 instead of 20.

If you are working with trigonometric functions, you can set the calculator to use degrees, radians, or grads. So, for example, if you have the Degrees button pushed and have 180 in the display, calculating the sine (by clicking the "sin" button) will display 0, which is the sine of 180 degrees. Similarly, if you have the Radians button pushed and have pi in the display, calculating the sine will also display 0 because 180 degrees is the equivalent of pi radians.

 This tip (12146) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 35 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer. He is currently a software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. When not working with Windows or writing Tips, Barry is an amateur writer. His first non-fiction book is titled "A Chronological Commentary of Revelation." ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Pinning a Shortcut to the Taskbar

It's usually easy to pin items to the Taskbar. But if what you want to pin is not a shortcut to an application? This tip ...

Discover More

Understanding System Protection

System Protection is an automatic feature of Windows. It uses restore points that can be a virtual lifesaver if an ...

Discover More

DesktopOK

Are you frustrated by your desktop icons moving around whenever you change your screen resolution or use Remote Desktop? ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Be On Time with the Alarms & Clock App

In a busy world, with so much going on it's often important and necessary to track time. Fortunately, the Alarms & Clock ...

Discover More

Using the Disk Cleanup Wizard

There are a lot of files that "hang around" on your system that you probably don't intend to keep (if you even realize ...

Discover More

Keeping Track of Time with Timers

Often it is necessary to be notified when a set amount of time has gone by. With the Timer tab of the Alarms & Clock app ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five minus 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.