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Apple Mac OS X tips and tweaks

Use Spotlight for quick and easy calculations

When you need to do a quick calculation, such as working out a percentage of something, the cost, the amount, a total of items, the tax or even something a little more complicated, you can call up a calculator on your Apple Mac. You have three choices - the Dashboard calculator, the Calculator app, and Spotlight. Er, Spotlight? Yes, it does calculations!

You can access the Dashboard by clicking the icon in the Dock at the bottom of the screen of course, or you can hit the keyboard shortcut - F12 on my MacBook, although it could be mapped to some other key on yours. If the calculator isn't visible, click the plus button in the bottom left corner and then find it in the strip of Dashboard apps that appears and click it to add it.

The Calculator app is in the Applications folder and the advantage of this is that it has Basic, Scientific and Programmer modes, and even RPN (Reverse Polish Notation). It's excellent.

Spotlight calculatorThe third option available to you when you need a quick calculation is Spotlight. Now you may be thinking that this is simply a search tool that finds files on the hard disk drive, but it is more than that and it can also perform calculations. It is surprising what it is capable of and when you don't need a full calculator application on the screen and it can more convenient.

Click the Spotlight icon at the top right of the screen and try entering some calculations. You'll see the result displayed below. It's actually a result from the Calculator app, but you won't find Calculator running if you look for it. This means that you can get the results of calculations without having the distraction of the Calculator window on the screen. Cool!



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