Have you see the television show ‘Hoarders?’ Basically, it’s a reality TV show about people who have a psychological disorder. They keep everything until everything they’ve kept overruns their house. It’s likely you know a number of people with varying degrees of the hoarding disorder.
I hoard calculators. Sort of. They’re not overrunning the kitchen or garage, mostly because all the analog calculators I own still fit into a box, and the digital calculators still fit onto my Mac (with the newer ones running on iPhone and iPad, too). Alright, this need to try out, use, and keep virtually every digital calculator that crosses my eyeballs might be an addiction, but I don’t have to sleep on the floor because my Mac has plenty of extra storage.
That said, which calculators do I use the most? There are some that are specialize calculators, but the two that get the most usage, according to battery shaming on my iPhone, are PCalc and CalcTape. There are others that may have exactly the same functionality, but with PCalc, someone who cares about calculations and how they’re made put it altogether in the right package. And, with CalcTape– well, who doesn’t want a calculator with a digital tape that also syncs up and plays nice-nice with Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
PCalc’s list of features is a mile long and hard to match. It’s everywhere, including Notification Center on the Mac and as a calculator on Watch.
- Switchable button layouts – choose from many different horizontal and vertical layouts to suit your needs. Includes all the layouts from the iPhone and iPad, as well as Mac-specific ones.
- Notification Center widget, for quick access to PCalc.
- Calculator themes – pick your look, all the way from minimalist to striking.
- An RPN mode with one button access to the stack, and optional multiple-line display.
- Editable user conversions, functions, and constants which are synced automatically across multiple devices.
- Hexadecimal, octal and binary modes, complete with a variety of bitwise operators.
- Simulated paper tape to keep track of your calculations with a “ticker tape” mode under the main display.
- Smart searching of conversions, functions, and constants. Just search for “$ to £” for example.
- Consistent user interface.
- Support for Retina displays.
- Full AppleScript support.
- Multiple undo and redo.
- Modern 64-bit Cocoa application.
- Handoff of in-progress calculations between PCalc on iOS, macOS, and watchOS.
- Full support for the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro.
- Full support for macOS 10.13 High Sierra.
Simply put, it’s a full featured calculator that runs on everything with an Apple logo on it.
Why have another calculator when the best and most full featured calculator is already available? Price. My wife and I share the same Apple Store account and while she can use PCacl she found it daunting.
So, we shopped around and she settled on CalcTape. The name should make it obvious as to the claim to fame. It has this crazy long digital tape of recent calculations. Wait. There’s more.
CalcTape has one feature I adore– other than syncing up between Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Comments. Sometimes the calculations we make get so convoluted you can forget what each one is. CalcTape has an option to add a comment to the calculation terms. That’s a first for me.
- Enter many calculation terms in one turn and still keep an overview – like on an adding machine / desktop calculator.
- Change any term afterwards and CalcTape will refresh the whole calculation automatically.
- Use intermediate results to check and structure your calculation.
- Comment your calculation terms, to give sense and context to it.
- Save your calculations into files. Open the files later and you can change the calculations. CalcTape will refresh the whole calculation automatically again and again.
- Use your existing CalcTape files as templates. Do similar calculations and play different scenarios.
- Use the programmable buttons e.g. for fast TAX calculations.
- Scratchpad for every-day calculations is being saved automatically.
- Put calculations side by side for comparison.
- Work with variables and generate “speaking” calculations.
- Define as many programmable keys as you like.
- Use parentheses and trigonometry when defining variables.
- iCloud support (Mac OS 10.10 and higher). Sync your calculations with iPhone and iPad easily.
- CalcTape masters the four basic arithmetical operations, exponentials, and percentage calculations.
Again, what’s not to like. The interface is not PCalc. It’s simpler and more obvious, but contains a few useful features not found in most digital calculators– certainly not in Apple’s own macOS or iOS versions.
For what it’s worth, CalcTape tops PCalc in one more area. There is an Android version and a Windows version. Somebody is specializing in cross platform calculators. Since CalcTape uses iCloud you would expect to have calculations sync, but I haven’t tried that out.
Not bad, right? One other calculator I’ll mention is Numi which works from the Mac’s Menubar so the convenience is improved, but it works in English instead of a calculator pad. It’s definitely worth a look, especially since it’s free.