This hidden iPad calculator hack is a mathematical lifesaver

iPad calculator
(Image credit: Apple/Impression Europe)

Have you ever noticed your iPad doesn't have a dedicated calculator app? Maybe you're so mathematically adept that it isn't something that you've ever needed (full genius points to you if so), or perhaps it's a glaring omission in your life. Either way, a calculator is always handy to have around, just in case of a numbers-based emergency. To save you downloading a non-Apple app, it's handy to know that iPads do actually have hidden capability to fill the gap left by the lack of an app.

Apparently, the app has been left out because the development team haven't yet found a way to make the calculator special enough to elevate it above the standard iPhone calculator app – but there's a chance they could update the iOS with something mind-blowing at any point, so watch this space. In the meantime, if you need some number-help, there's a built-in calculator function that's ripe for use. Here's how to use it (want an actual calculator app? Try the best iPad alternatives).

There are a couple of different ways to use the calculator within the iPad, via the Spotlight tool, Siri and by using Shortcuts. We'll explain below.

01. Spotlight as iPad calculator 

iPad spotlight search

Type the equation into the Spotlight search box (Image credit: Verizon)

Pulling down the Home Screen or Lock Screen opens the Spotlight tool, which has the ability to solve your mathematical worries. It's actually a scientific calculator, so has a surprisingly wide range of calculation ability. You'll be able to do basic arithmetic, but also trigonometric functions (sine, cosine, tangents), basic operators like exponents and factorials logarithms, roots, rounding and even more.

It doesn't have a calculator-like keyboard so you'll have to use a bunch of symbols and type the problem/equation out in full, which takes some knowledge, but it's absolutely doable, especially if you're keeping things simple (and if you're not, maybe you should invest in a real calculator anyway).

02. Siri as iPad calculator

Siri is here to help, too. Sure, you'll have to say the equations out loud (make sure you write them down first to avoid confusing things) but, on the whole, the world's most famous voice assistant will work them out, or at the very least ask the internet for you.

Simply get Siri's attention as you usually would by saying "Hey Siri" or pressing the Home or Top button and speak your mind.

So, there we go. Apple does, in fact, have hidden calculator capabilities within the iPad system. Hurrah. Want to know what the year has in store for Apple? Check out our piece, which explores what Apple might do in 2023 (we can't say if it involves a calculator).

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Georgia Coggan

Georgia started her freelance career working for CB in 2018, and since then has worked across the site on news, ecom, SEO content... basically anything and everything. Georgia is a slave to the style guide, a logo geek and loves all things London Underground (its branding history, and not at rush hour).