Where’s the Calculator on iPad? Use Spotlight!

Jun 9, 2024 - Leave a Comment

You can use Spotlight on iPad as a calculator

Calculators are wildly useful tools for various obvious reasons, whether you need to perform simple math or complex calculations. One of the more curious iPad oversights on Apple’s behalf is the lack of a built-in Calculator app, which is missing on iPad, but has been included on the Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch, since the introduction of those devices.

If you’re an iPad user and you need to use a calculator, there is a native solution on iPadOS, but it’s located within an unexpected location for some users; Spotlight. Yes, Spotlight, the on-device search engine on iPad, can function as a calculator.

How to Use a Calculator on iPad with Spotlight

Spotlight is able to perform calculations directly on iPad, here’s how:

  1. Open Spotlight on the iPad, either by hitting Command+Spacebar on an external keyboard, or by pulling down on any icon at the Home Screen
  2. Enter your math problem or calculations into Spotlight, they will be calculated and solved immediately without even having to hit Return or selecting a result
  3. Spotlight on iPad functions as a calculator

You can perform relatively simple calculations, or complex calculations with exponents and parenthesis.

The Spotlight Calculator can handle complex calculations as well as simple ones on iPad

Interestingly, because there is not currently a Calculator.app for iPad, if you do click on the Spotlight search result or ‘answer’ of the calculation, you’ll open the calculation into a new browser window with your default search engine. And yes as this implies, most major search engines also have basic calculation functions.

Clicking a calculator result in Spotlight will open a web search with the calculation

The ability to use Spotlight as a calculator has been around for ages, and we covered it as a tip for the Mac a long time ago, and like many handy tips for the Apple ecosystem, they work just the same now as they did then.

You can also use Siri to perform calculations on any Siri-equipped Apple device, whether that’s iPad, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, HomePod, Vision Pro, or otherwise.

Some Apple devices, like the Apple Watch, even have some additional handy calculator features, like simple functions to calculate tips, or split bills.

There are rumors that iPad will gain a Calculator.app in iPadOS 18 and newer, but for those of us running iPadOS 17 or before, you can either use the Spotlight calculator as shown here, or download a third party calculator app to use on the device.


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Posted by: Jamie Cuevas in iPad, Tips & Tricks

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