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To see the result of

2000 × 19% / 12

I used both the Mac's Calculator app (with El Capitan or Mavericks), vs on the iPhone with iOS 9.1.

On the Mac, when I press 2000, ×, 19, %, it gives me 380, but when I press the division button ÷, then it gives 760000 right away, and finishing with pressing 12, = gives 63333.33333333.

On the iPhone, I do get the expected result: 31.6666. So how can this be understood and how can it be done on the Mac?

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Here's a short article that does a good job of describing the behaviour you're observing with OS X's in-built Calculator app: How does the calculator percent key work?

What's going on?

When performing an operation involving two values followed by the percent key, the product is first calculated (i.e. 2000 x 19 % = 380) and this then replaces the second value in the ongoing calculation, which becomes 2000 x 380. When you then press the division key ÷ the product of the ongoing operation is calculated (2000 x 380 = 760,000), as you described, before you input the divisor to perform another operation.

Working with percentages using OS X's in-built Calculator

To work with percentages in this instance you should express them in decimal form:

2000 × 0.19 ÷ 12
= 31.6666

This works with both iOS's and OS X's Calculator. I would advise against using the percent key in favour of working with decimals. The same can be said when using physical calculators, where the behaviour can differ between models.

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  • thanks for your answer. I am somewhat stunned to know of "the way to use it on the Mac is not to use it" Nov 9, 2015 at 3:46

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