Update on 4/28: Mike from Donkey Engineering got back to me about a result copy shortcut: “Apple basically only allows you to put stuff on the clipboard when command+C is pressed, but I have a few ideas on how to work around that so it fits into your workflow” Looking forward to the update, Mike!
My favorite workflow when I’m doing lots of chemistry problems is to use Better Touch Tool so that a three finger tap brings up the OSX dashboard, and within dashboard, I use PEMDAS widget to do fancy equations. No physical calculator needed! Also on my dashboard is a periodic table in a web clip widget so those lovely masses and valence electrons are at my fingertips. A widget that displays an image file would be better, since the web clip widget depends on internet access, but that’s usually not a problem.
The only thing that would make doing calculation-heavy work without an actual physical calculator (like my beloved but chunky TI-89) even faster would be a hotkey in PEMDAS for copying the result. I filled out the support form on the Donkey Engineering web site asking about copying the result and Mike responded with a fixed version supporting copy and paste! You have to click the result to copy it, so I still hope they implement a second hot key just for copying the result, but it’s a leap forward in efficiency. Big thumbs up to Donkey Engineering for responding to my support request so quickly! I strongly suggest you check out PEMDAS in widget, app, or iphone form.
There are some app launchers like quicksilver that support calculator functions, but if you need a more robust fully scientific calculator, the PEMDAS widget is really the best option for fast workflow if you’re doing dozens of calculation-heavy problems with multiple steps. When I don’t need a lot of scientific functions, sometimes I use perl one-liners. If you think of something even faster, let me know. I wonder how other people churn through problems on other platforms/apps. Am I crazy for avoiding my lonely TI-89?