Super UserWhat super-calculator do you use?
[+26] [33] Jenko
[2009-08-12 19:50:09]
[ replacement calculator ]

Windows Calculator can switch into a "Scientific" mode, getting more math and logical operators, but that's not good enough. I know there are tons of features its missing, such as the ones we see in the Windows 7 calc, or simply making things more visual. Its been years and I still haven't found a good calculator replacement.

Suggestions? And hopefully your calc replaces MS Calc when I press the dedicated "calculator key" on my Keyboard, so I don't have to hunt around for a shortcut.

(1) Thankfully for my needs the W7 calc is more than enough. - RCIX
(1) Launchy puts you a keystroke away from a quick calculation. - jweede
(6) You can definitely tell from this question that is still mostly programmers, not ordinary superusers... - MatrixFrog
[+41] [2009-08-12 20:40:00] Tim Pietzcker [ACCEPTED]

I like SpeedCrunch [1].

alt text


(1) Wow! Looks great! The first calc I'm actually gonna try out. Thanks! - Jenko
(3) For ubuntu, just "apt-get install speedcrunch" :) - Johan
(2) +1 Amazing, unbelievable that I have never heard about it before. Extra thanks to Johan for pointing to the ubuntu package. - Ludwig Weinzierl
For a version that works on Vista see comment #20 here: - Sam Hasler
[+31] [2009-08-12 20:01:43] juanjux

Python interactive interpreter (or better yet, iPython)

Yep, that's what I'd use. Loops are useful to have when calculating many things, normal calculators just don't cut the mustard. - Rich Bradshaw
Python Numeric package helps too! - juanjux
+1 Same here. Couldn't live without it. - kjfletch
That and from math import * and from __future__ import division - new123456
[+21] [2009-08-12 19:59:29] JP.

I have been loving the new Windows 7 calculator [1]. You can get it on Vista too [2]. I also can't stop using Wolfram Alpha [3].

Per comment: There are some 3rd party ports for XP, but I haven't tried any so I don't want to link them here. You can also grab Calculator Plus [4] directly from MS.


Is the Win7 calc available to us "legacy" Windows XP users too? How? - Jenko
(9) +1 for Wolfram Alpha. - Matthew Jones
(1) Calculator Plus is hideous. Avoid. - U62
[+14] [2009-08-12 20:15:01] Eric Wilson

I do about 95% of my calculations in Microsoft Excel. It has almost everything you need, trig functions, logs, exponentials, factorials etc.

Moreover, you have a record of what you've calculated when you are done, so you can check your work.

For context, I was a math professor until recently. - Eric Wilson
Excel is my calculator as well. - Sathya
[+11] [2009-08-13 03:17:45] docgnome

I often reach for bc [1].


[+9] [2009-08-13 08:59:59] SealedSun


Why? Because all calculations in Mathematica are fully symbolic. It does have a pretty steep learning curve, but after you have mastered the syntax and a couple of basic keyboard shortcuts, it beats every calculator.

I especially like the fact that its actually a programming language. You can build a whole pipeline of computations and tweak it until it does what you want.

One downside: It takes quite some time to launch.

[+8] [2009-08-13 19:05:41] Bratch

Google does quite a bit of calculations and conversions, complete with built-in constants, from whatever browser you happen to have installed (assuing you're connected, but who isn't these days?). It's not an installed replacement for a desktop calculator, but is nice when you don't have one available.
How to use the Google calculator [1]

Some examples:
sin(90) [2]
5*9+(sqrt 10)^3 [3]
1 mile to mm [4]
1 terabyte to megabytes [5]
0xFF + 0xFF [6]
1.21 GW / 88 mph [7]
0x7d3 in roman numerals [8]
0b1100101*0b1001 [9]
EDIT: Couple more interesting ones for the astronomers:
150mm in AU [10]
1 mile in light years [11]
1 light year to miles [12]
EDIT: New one:
1 hellameter = 1.0 × 10^27 meters [13]


I constantly use Google for conversions. My dad has a complex Windows converter app he likes to use and he refuses to believe me that using Google is so much quicker... - DisgruntledGoat
[+8] [2009-08-12 20:40:51] dbr

On OS X, "Magic Number Machine" [1]

Magic Number Machine screenshot

A free, full-featured, graphically laid out, high-precision, scientific calculator for Mac OS X 10.4 and greater. Full source-code is included with the distribution.

Good if you need to enter large expressions or have accurate precision. Data Drawers allow statistical data, linear regression and gaussian elimination. All parts of the program support complex numbers and hexadecimal numbers.

I sometimes use OS X's Grapher application [2]

For more complicated things I use Python [3], either an interactive session or a script.


Good lord! This is massive. Wish they had a Windows port for us poorer folks. - Jenko
[+8] [2009-08-12 20:12:29] las3rjock

MATLAB [1], although I've been trying to use Python more. I'll admit that it's probably overkill for most other people, though. ;-)

For simple calculations (or unit conversions), I often use Google as a calculator.


I think matlab is to calculators as javascript is to java. If we start looking at it that way, soon we'll have all the programming languages in here. - ldigas
I'll readily admit that MATLAB is not for everyone, but when a typical calculation might involve evaluating a Bessel function or Hankel function for some argument, most calculators (software, handheld, or otherwise) are inadequate. - las3rjock
No, no. You misunderstood me. What I ment to say is that MATLAB is not "a calculator"; you want calculate an area below a curve for example. Now, that is an operation that includes a lot of adding and multiplying (an operation any calculator can perform), but you'll never implement it as a calculator function. You'll use some specialized software for that. In the same view, MATLAB is not a calculator, if you understand my point. It's like saying a car is a "little better skateboard". Technically, it is. But they're never used in the same area, and do not serve the same purpose. - ldigas
Matlab is a software that does ... what it does, while calculators are software/hardware that perform basic and maybe a little less basic functions (but "lower" functions). There's gotta be a limit somewhere, otherwise, we might call every programming language and software "calculators". - ldigas
(2) @Idigas: I know more than a few people who open shells in <favorite interpreted language> to do basic calculations. When <favorite language> is bc, that is the very point of the languages. This is a very reasonable thing for a text-and-typing oriented person (like, for instance a programmer) to do. Other languages I've seen people use: python, ROOT, lisp-alikes (scheme, guile,...). - dmckee
@Idigas I think I would agree with the statement that MATLAB is not just a calculator, but it can be used as one. Similarly Google is not just a calculator, but it can be used as one. I mentioned it because I often use MATLAB as a calculator because a) it's already running, or b) it's the best tool at my disposal for some one-off calculation (like J_1(x)/x for some value of x). - las3rjock
@las3rjock - I'm not saying it cannot be used. Mobile phones can also be used as calculators. I'm pretty sure I could do basic math operations on my microwave oven as well. But when comparing calculators I'm not gonna include it in the list. But hey - you do what you like - for me the day finished, and I'm going to sleep ! - ldigas
@dmckee - I don't see what the text-and-typing orientation has to do with this. I see your point, but the comment's irrelevant. - ldigas
+1 for using Google as a calculator. - musicfreak
@Idigas I think the clearest response that I can give you is this: I regularly use MATLAB as a calculator (and sometimes as a super-calculator for one-time calculations that would stymie lesser calculators), and I thought it should be mentioned since there are probably a number of engineers, scientists, and mathematicians that do too. - las3rjock
@las3rjock - Being one of the first from the list, I'm perfectly aware who uses it and what it is used for. However, I still stand by opinion that it should be excluded from the list of software we describe as "calculators", for clarity sake. - ldigas
(1) For the record, MATLAB was the first thing that came to my mind too when I saw the question "What super-calculator do you use?". I think the description super-calculator fits MATLAB a lot. - sundar
[+7] [2009-08-13 21:04:25] user127

Wolfram|Alpha [1]



That is awesome, I didn't realize it would do as much as it does. You can use it like an english-speaking mathematica, for example just giving "integral of sin(x)" gives the right answer, with graphs. - bvmou
[+6] [2009-08-12 20:11:30] rzlines

You could use Microsoft PowerToys Power Calculator [1] for Windows XP

Power Calculator

With this PowerToy you can graph and evaluate functions as well as perform many different types of conversions.

Windows XP Original Calculator


Power Calculator

pwt cal

Edit: One more option

Calculator++ [2]

Calculator++ is a cross-platform, arbitrary-precision, customizable, multifunction, scientific calculator. Using Calculator++, you can perform any of the customary handheld or online calculator operations, and many more. While it serves as an excellent replacement for your operating system's built-in calculator, it also offers many powerful features that are not available together in any other handheld or computer-based calculator. Calculator++ supports over 25,000 units for conversion in an ever growing list of categories and units. Scientists, engineers, programmers, and students will find it a simple to use, yet powerful, tool.

Calculator++ is written entirely in Java, so you can use it on the platform of your choice. Calculator++ requires Java Runtime Environment 6.0 or later.

Scientific Display

Scientific Display

Conversion Display

Conversion Display


Not sure the top two screens are XP. - Umber Ferrule
they are from my XP comp just that my computer is themed with MAC theme - rzlines
the only difference between the top two pictures appears to be the selection of decimal and hex mode in Windows calc. - shufler
[+6] [2009-08-13 04:19:38] Johan

For small things I use speedcrunch but for more advanced stuff is sometimes use octave.

Octave [1] is a open source matlab "copy" (well not a copy but let's say it is heavily inspired from matlab...)


[+5] [2009-08-13 04:47:09] Kyle Cronin

After being thoroughly impressed with PCalc on the iPhone, I've also switched to using it on my Mac dashboard as well:

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(1) Wow, looks beautifully organised! Particularly with the colours separating out functions. You don't get that with most calculator apps. - DisgruntledGoat
@DisgruntledGoad: Indeed, that's one of the things that drew me to the app - Kyle Cronin
Shiny! What happens if you press that RPN button?! - JustJeff
@JustJeff: - Kyle Cronin
[+4] [2009-08-13 00:22:16] liori

WxMaxima [1], IPython


(1) +1 seriously one of, if not the most powerful free calculators in existence. - 280Z28
[+4] [2009-08-13 01:56:05] Joe Philllips

Firefox's Google search bar..

5+5= (and the auto-suggestion will tell you the answer)

[+4] [2009-08-12 20:13:34] LiraNuna


Especially the programming mode:

alt text

Yep, I use this too, set on shortcut <win>+<N> (for Number, C is used for Amarok). I rarely use complex calculations though. - DisgruntledGoat
[+4] [2009-08-12 20:37:17] sudhang

I am very fond of qalculate [1]


(1) Only for GNU/Linux! - Jenko
@Jeremy: actually I just installed a mac version of it from macports - cobbal
[+2] [2009-08-14 05:36:59] Charlie Salts

HP 48G+ [1]

Does everything you could want. If it doesn't, you can program it to your will.


I use a 50g, and if I need to do anything particularly intensive, I save the battery power and use x49gp. - new123456
[+1] [2009-08-13 21:01:01] Christian

R [1] is a nice calculator.

You can do a lot of calculations without having to import stuff which you would have to when using Python.


[+1] [2009-08-13 12:05:20] Brian Knoblauch


The scratchpad function on Emacs allows one to quickly drop in Lisp code/equations and execute in place. Makes an excellent replacement for calculator when you have complex mathematical tasks.

(1) and what about calc mode? - bandi
Didn't even realize Emacs had a calc mode. I pretty much only use Emacs as a notepad and a Lisp interpreter anymore. :-) - Brian Knoblauch
[+1] [2009-08-13 22:54:00] community_owned

Depending on the situation, i use one of 2 calculators.

If its anything very complicated or requiring symbolic math, defiantly using Matlab.

However, for the vast majority of my work, ill just revert to the good old ti-83 hand held graphic calculator. There is no fancy computer calculator that can match the speed, flexibility, and power of a Matlab + ti-83 combo.

[+1] [2010-07-21 20:45:26] typoknig

I like Microsoft Math 3.0 because it actually shows you how the formulas are applied, which is very good if your math skills are not as strong as they should be.

[+1] [2009-08-13 02:07:31] mwalling

I almost always have Mathcad [1] running at work, ocasionally MATLAB [2], so they're only an Alt-Tab away. If none of those are running, I'll go to Wolfram [3].


[0] [2009-08-13 01:57:08] Joe Philllips

mIRC's $calc() identifier lets you do some nice things...if you like the command line input like myself

[0] [2009-08-13 00:31:51] Bobby Ortiz

Formative Software, Inc. has calculators for windows, and windows mobile. If you work with different units, these are the best. My favorite is the Ultimate Advantage [1].


[0] [2009-08-12 23:59:56] Paul Nathan

maxima [1]


[0] [2011-07-18 15:35:17] Ian Turner

I use MathCAD [1] a lot of the time. The neat trick with MathCAD is it has support for unit types which can save a lot of embaracement when you ar doing complex calculations with different kinds of units.


[0] [2009-08-13 12:50:04] nik

I have often found myself reach out to a gdb shell [1]
even when I have a SpeedCrunch installation close at hands.

Lets me continue to think in C...

Beyond that, I'd probably give Python interpreter [2] a thought.


[0] [2009-08-14 23:54:07] Jenko

SpeQ Math [1] is a small, extensive mathematics program with a simple, intuitive interface.

All calculations are entered in a sheet. SpeQ supports all common functions, constants, and units. You can define custom variables and functions, and plot graphs of your functions.

SpeQ comes with 60 built-in functions for Analysis, Arithmetic, Complex numbers, Hyperbolic, Integers, Logical, Probability, Numeral systems, Statistics, Trigonometry

Decimal, binary, hexadecimal and octal numeral systems

alt text

Get the PC or portable [2] version.


[0] [2009-08-14 23:56:29] Jenko

Moffsoft FreeCalc [1] is a great calc replacement. Including all the standard Windows calculator features, it has a history tape, digit groupings and a visible memory value. It can be minimized to the tray.

alt text


[0] [2009-08-15 00:26:12] community_owned

If I can't do it on my HP-12C, it's obviously something I need not care about. ;-)

[0] [2009-08-18 14:00:33] MikeCroucher

Sage Mathematics [1] - It's like a free, open source version of Mathematica. Very powerful!


[0] [2010-05-30 19:55:56] Joey

I usually use Windows PowerShell.