Introducing Windows 8.1: The Beginner's Guide to the Calculator App

Windows 8.1 has a touch-friendly version of the old and still useful Calculator application. Like its desktop counterpart, the new Calculator app gives you access to lots of mathematical operators and functions that you can use for mathematical calculations. Also, it includes some very useful converters for all kinds of measurement units. If you would like to learn how to use it for performing calculations and conversions, read this tutorial.

How to Open the Calculator App in Windows 8.1

The fastest and the easiest way to open the Calculator app is to go to the Start screen and start typing its name. The Search charm lists the results on the right side of the screen. Click or tap the Calculator search result but note that in the list also includes the shortcut for the desktop version. Look for the green calculator icon shown below.

You can also open the Calculator app from the Apps view. To access it, move your mouse to the bottom-left side of the screen and click the arrow pointing downward.

On a device with touch, flick upwards from the bottom of the screen. The Calculator shortcut is found in the Tools category.

Using the Calculator App for Standard Math Calculations

The Calculator app in Windows 8.1 has three different modes or types of calculations: Standard, Scientific and Converter. By default, the app starts in Standard mode. If you want to switch to another mode, tap on its name.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the Standard mode offers basic math functions and it is the equivalent of a normal pocket calculator. With it you will perform simple math calculations like additions, subtractions, multiplications and divisions. On the left side of the app screen you have buttons for working with square roots, percentages or fractions.

To perform a simple calculation, enter the first number, then tap the function that you want to use and then enter the second number. When done, tap Equal to view the result.

Using the Scientific Mode in the Calculator App

Switching to the Scientific mode will give you access to complex functions. To mention just a few, you can choose to work with degrees, radians or grads, you can calculate logarithms, convert numbers from a numerical base to another, calculate powers, roots and so on.

To select the use of degrees, radians or grads, tap the corresponding Deg, Rad or Grad button, found on the top left corner of the functions pad.

To make any calculations, enter a number, then tap the function you want to perform and, if required, enter the second number or function that you want to add to the calculation, and its parameters.

How to Use the Converter in the Calculator App

The Converter mode includes lots of useful converters for things like: Volume, Length, Weight, Temperature, Energy, Area, Speed, Time, Power and Data. To select a converter, tap the one that's active and then, from the drop-down menu, select the new converter that you want to use.

Next, select the unit of measure you want to convert from and the unit of measure you want to convert to.

After you have selected the units of measure that you want to use, on the right side of the screen, enter the number that you want to convert.

On the bottom of the screen, you also see the conversion to other commonly used units of measure.

How to Use the Memory in the Calculator App

You can use theMemory function to save numbers and results for later use, both in the Standard and the Scientific mode. To store a result of a calculation or a number you just entered, click or tap the M button in the functions pad.

Once you've pressed the M button, the number is saved for later use, and will be listed on the right side of the screen.

To use a memorized number, simply press on it in the Memory list and it will be added to your existing calculation.
If you press and hold (or right-click) a number in the Memory list, you can use one of these two options:

  • M+ (Add to memory) - value stored in memory + current value = new value stored.
  • M- (Subtract from memory) - value stored in memory - current value = new value stored.

To clear the Memory, swipe from the bottom of the screen or right click anywhere on the screen. The Clear memory button is displayed on the bottom left. Click or tap on it to forget all the numbers that are stored in the Memory of the Calculator app.


As you can see from this guide, the Calculator app isn't too different from its desktop counterpart. If you use a device with touch, the Calculator app is easier to use than the desktop version. However, if you use a PC, the Calculator app can prove to be too big and uncomfortable to use on large screens, with a mouse and keyboard. Therefore, choose the Calculator version that works best for you, depending on the device you are using.