The iPhone’s calculator app is a very basic and simple to use calculator. It’s incredibly handy for those times that you just need to do a bit of quick arithmetic, such as calculating a tip at a restaurant. There is very little that needs explaining when you first use it, and it always just works. However, Apple’s simple iOS calculator holds a couple of secrets that turn it into a much more powerful adding machine!

The first “trick” is often discovered by accident by many people, so this may not be as much of a secret as it is a really handy function. With it, it transforms the basic calculator into a full fledged scientific calculator. It would be nice if you could turn it into a graphing calculator, but that may be asking too much! So, how does one enable this fancy scientific calculator mode? Easily – by turning the iPhone into landscape mode. That’s it! As you do, the calculator will swing around and reveal all the extra buttons that are normally hidden when holding it in portrait position. The only downside that I have found is that this mode, by necessity, shrinks down all of the buttons. They are much smaller! It just means that you have to be more precise and diligent as you enter your data. But it works remarkably well!

The other secret that I want to reveal I only recently discovered. As the calculator app has been around since the very first iPhone, I was amazed that I did not know this trick yet. If you take a look at the buttons that are available in landscape mode, you can see many of the advanced exponent or trigonometry buttons, data entry, brackets, etc. However, there is one button that is missing that is normally found on physical scientific calculators – the backspace button. If you make a mistake, you can always just hit the C (clear) button. Hit it once, you clear your entry. After that, it turns into an AC button, which clears all of the arithmetic you have done. But what about if you have a long number, and you don’t want to have to worry about punching in the correct digits again? The solution is so simple, it will feel like you got smacked in the face! When you have a bunch of digits displayed, and you want to backspace one (or more), all that you have to do is swipe with your finger left or right along the number display. You will see your entry immediately shrink by one digit. It is so simple, and so amazing intuitive, that I could not believe that I had never known about this trick.

Now that you know these tips for the iOS calculator, it is an even more impressive app!