There was a time when Windows apps, limited to bloatware contained in the background of Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10 menus, were dumb as a bag of rocks, functionally pitiful and easily replaced with a free online version or download. Not my buddy, the Windows calculator app, though. It graduated from bloatware high a long time ago.
Years and years ago, back before Windows 7, the calculator app was incredibly basic, not meaningfully different from the calculator you have in your smartphone today. It could do simple equations, sure, but nothing too impressive.
Then, with Windows 7, the calculator had a major upgrade. Like, functionally changing not just the look and layout, but actually changing what the application was capable of. Some apps have been subjected to overhauls like this, that we know, but this was a huge functional rework.
With this update, Windows’ inbuilt calculator became quite a useful utility! Especially to me, someone who often has to convert times and currencies (currency conversions were added in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update). I didn’t realise the app was so smart at the time, but boy do I know now. Time skip to today, and the calculator looks the part too, suave and in line with the minimalist aesthetic of Windows 10 and 11.
Here’s some the cool stuff Windows calculator can do (I can’t believe I just said this about a calculator app):
- Time conversions
- Currency conversions
- Length conversions
- Energy conversions
- Data conversions
Just hit the three horizontal lines in the corner of the app and you’ll be able to switch to a conversion calculator.
And, really, that’s just some of it. Unfortunately, though, there doesn’t appear to be one of my preferred conversion features: timezones. Just going to put this out there, Microsoft, if you’re reading, I’d love to be able to convert timezones through an in-built app.
I didn’t really know about this until I started to talk to my Dad about it (he’s someone who regularly needs to use the Windows calculator while away from the internet). Being able to do these conversions on the fly without an internet connection (bar the currency conversion feature, which needs to update regularly) is a pretty cool thing, especially for an inbuilt app.
Though there are, of course, alternatives that you can install or even use online. Often, simply Googling a value conversion will give you a Google Snippet result (one of those results that pops up at the top immediately without needing to open the webpage), but there are also dedicated websites that let you convert certain values.
But I, for one, love the humble calculator app. It does exactly what it needs to do without any unnecessary extras. Long live the calculator.
Anyway, that’s the end of my calculator hyperfixation. As someone who often skips over when an operating system has a cool in-built feature, I didn’t want people to miss this one, so, you’re welcome. If you spot a cool feature in an operating system nobody really knows about, let me know. I love that stuff.
These features are available on the Windows 10 and Windows 11 calculator apps.