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10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
This might be very specific to me, but it's a solution to something that's been bugging me for some time, and is also a use for a feature that seemed to me to be "cool but pointless."

It seems that Quick Look windows are tied to Finder, rather than being windows in their own right. That means that if you take the focus away from Finder, you no longer see the Quick Look. That's been a problem for me, as I often Quick Look at Excel workbooks and want to do a short calculation using some of the figures I see. Trouble is, as soon as I start or switch to Calculator, Finder loses focus and I can't see the Quick Look window any more.

The solution is simple and obvious (once it dawns on you): bring up the Spotlight search box and type your calculation into that. That way, Finder doesn't lose focus, and so you can still see your "source document." It's almost as if Apple added calculations to Spotlight specifically to overcome this issue.
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10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look | 16 comments | Create New Account
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10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: rhowell on Nov 27, '07 07:41:22AM

Spotlight: 1 + 2 * 3 = 7 (yeah!)
Calculator.app: 1 + 2 * 3 = 7 (yeah!)
Dashboard Calculator: 1 + 2 * 3 = 9 (doh!)

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: frgough on Nov 27, '07 09:37:58AM

The dashboard calculator is a running calculator. Calculations are done as the functions are pressed. Calculator and Spotlight don't evaluate the expression until you press the enter key.

So pressing 1+2*3 in the dashboard calculator is actually keying in (1+2)*3, which is 9.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: sezme on Nov 27, '07 08:06:10AM

I'm not entirely sure what specific procedure you're trying to explain with this hint. Could you give more details?

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: Mac Berry on Nov 27, '07 08:57:47AM

I'm not too sure how to make it any clearer I'm afraid. Spotlight in Leopard allows you to perform simple calculations (e.g. type 3*2+42, and you'll see 48 in the results window).

You can use this feature while reading the figures you need from a document viewed in Quick Look, which is impossible using calculator.app because you can't see the Quick Look window at the same time as having another app in focus.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: sezme on Nov 28, '07 05:06:01PM

Ok, now I got it - for some reason I didn't get that you were comparing spotlight's calculator with calculator.app.

Thanks!

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: dfbills on Nov 27, '07 08:24:12AM

I would expect this one to to be correct considering that your calculation should be interpreted from left to write as in a ticket tape calculation.

You say:

Dashboard Calculator: 1 + 2 * 3 = 9 (doh!)

Correct interpretation:

(1 + 2) * 3 = 9

I would never expect:

1 + (2 * 3) = 9

The numbers are simply not laid out in that order.

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-d

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: abyone on Nov 27, '07 08:37:18AM
I would expect this one to to be correct considering that your calculation should be interpreted from left to write as in a ticket tape calculation.

You say:
Dashboard Calculator: 1 + 2 * 3 = 9 (doh!)

Correct interpretation:
(1 + 2) * 3 = 9

I would never expect:
1 + (2 * 3) = 9

The numbers are simply not laid out in that order.

Well, I'm afraid to to tell you, you'd be wrong. The rules of mathematics is quite clear in this regard, in absence of parenthesis, you ALWAYS do multiplication before addition. This is ironclad, no ambiguity. You would get an 'F' in any math class if you did this. It's called order of operations.
10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: frgough on Nov 27, '07 09:41:44AM

Um, unless you are running a tape adding machine, in which case operations are performed as entered. Each press of the function key is the equivalent of pressing the equals key, with the equals key in this case indicating ALL calculations are finished.

So in a tape adding machine, you get this:

1+2 (interpreted as 1 plus 2 equals; waiting for next operation.

*3 =, which is interpreted as previous value times three, no more entries.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: jecwobble on Nov 27, '07 11:26:43AM

I don't have an adding machine in front of me to tell for sure, but that's not the way I recall it working. On an adding machine, addition and subtraction are not calculated until you hit the total (T) key. Multiplication and division are calculated when you hit the equals (=) key.

If you hit "1 + 2 * 3 =" you'd get 6 because didn't hit "+" or "T" after the equals

If you hit "1 + 2 * 3 = + T" you'd get 7.

To get 9, you would do "1 + 2 + T * 3 ="

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: lssmit02 on Nov 27, '07 11:55:05AM

If you scroll down on the wikipedia page you link to, you'll find a section called "Calculators," which explains that calculators can follow a different orders of operations. Apparently it's not even consistent among calculators manufactured by the same company (Texas Instruments in the example).

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: simonpie on Nov 27, '07 08:38:45AM

euh no !

Multiplication has higher priority than addition.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: edified on Nov 27, '07 09:30:38AM

Unless you're into....umm....math.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: davidraso on Nov 27, '07 09:31:00AM

This is totally off topic but dfbills and the Dashboard calculator are correct.

When using a basic calculator you are only performing one calculation at a time.
1 + 2 = 3
3 * 3 = 9

The calculator does not know about the multiplication on the first calculation.
Open the Dashboard calculator push 1 + 2 * when you push * it will preform the 1+2 calculation then when you press 3 it will multiply 3 by 3. This is standard for calculators (adding machines) if it was going to preform "BEDMAS" it would display the entire equation then you would press = that would preform the calculation following the rules of operation.

Side note The calculator on the iPhone preforms calculations incorrectly. Lets say you are at dinner their are 10 people at your table and 5 people at another table, each persons tab is \$20. So you take out your iphone and enter 10 + 5 * 20 = 110. Well that's not right - the iphone did not display the full equation before calculation and because the iphone doesn't have () you would have to enter 10 + 5 = * 20 = 300 (this is on my iphone with 1.1.1)

It is confusing, I know.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: jujjine on Nov 27, '07 09:42:10AM

You're right with Dashboard, but you're wrong with the iPhone.

Basically one should assume that the mathematical order is used unless the calculator gives you the value of the intermediate operation like 3 after you add 1 and 2.

On the iPhone you omit a step on the phone by not pressing = after the addition and then continuing with the multiplication.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: robogobo on Nov 27, '07 04:43:13PM

wow, I'm genuinely surprised at this discussion. I learned PEMDAS, didn't everyone else? I don't think I've heard such a complex argument over such basic math principles. And are some of you really not familiar with how different calculators work? simple calculators are exactly that- SIMPLE. They can do one calculation at a time. However, look at that machine in front of you. Does it look like a simple calculator to you? (exception- Dashboard emulates a simple calculator for fun). When you type an entire operation into a single line (not possible in Calc Widget), and then hit enter, it respects the order of operations because it's calculating the entire line in a single stroke. Math is not simple left to right- go back to your pre-algebra books.

OK, btw, nice hint.

10.5: Use Spotlight's calculations with Quick Look
Authored by: Mac Berry on Nov 28, '07 03:21:29AM

Thanks!

Actually, spotlight is even cleverer than you suggest (only calculating on enter). It gives you a running total, so if you type 1+2 you see 1+2=3 in the results, but if you continue typing and add *, the results disappear as it thinks "hmm, nope, he wasn't ready for that total", followed by 3 which then shows "1+2*3=7.

It has to work like that, because people are not necessarily used to hitting enter before getting results in spotlight. It's a very clever, and totally correct, way of handling it.