How to Activate and Use the Paper Tape in OS X’s Calculator App

| TMO Quick Tip

Apple’s Calculator app, included in OS X, is a handy tool for performing both quick calculations as well as more advanced functions. When calculating several numbers at once, however, it can become tedious to keep track of them, especially if you make a mistake at some point in the sequence.

Thankfully, Apple includes a paper tape feature that many new (and even some veteran) Mac users have not yet discovered. To display your paper tape, press Command - T or go to Window > Show Paper Tape.

Apple OS X Calculator Show Paper Tape

A paper tape window will appear next to your calculator and will proceed to keep track of and display previous calculations and results.

Here, for example, we’ll add up some receipts from a business trip. As we enter each dollar amount and press Return, the calculation and its solution are displayed from top to bottom in the paper tape window. If a mistake is made, or if you need to stop entering calculations to tend to something else, the paper tape makes it easy to go back to the last correct calculation and resume from there.

Apple OS X Paper Tape

The paper tape will also keep track of multiple calculations as they are performed, allowing you to easily reference, or carry forward, previous results. Once all of your calculations are complete, press “Clear” at the bottom of the paper tape window to clear all entries.

Addition is most basic example of the benefits of the paper tape. Its value is enhanced further as more advanced calculations are performed.

So if you’ve ever found yourself jotting down numbers in TextEdit or, heaven forbid, on a piece of paper, stop and immediately turn on Calculator’s paper tape function!

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3 Comments

bp

Thanks for the tip. I had no freakin idea it was there and need this since I do lot’s of calculations. I noticed you can even print the tape.

iJack

Why in heaven’s name is that not showing by default? 
It certainly couldn’t harm anything.  On the other hand, when I opened the paper tape just now, it opened in a completely different part of the screen, not neatly beside the calculator, as shown in your illustration.

BenG

Try this.  Open Calculator and the Paper Tape.  Locate the Tape where you want it.

Now close the calculator.

No open the calculator.  Voila! the paper tape appears too, right where you left it.

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