Soulver 3 review: Mac app simplifies readable calculations and conversions

Calculations are for computers, but Soulver makes them human again. The app, overhauled for version 3, lets you type in readable and formatted arithmetic calculations, functions, dates, and unit conversions, and get results you can use.

It’s particularly useful if you’re constantly working among combinations of units, such as throughput over time (Mbps per hour), or frequently return to the same calculations into which you plug different values.

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Soulver handles conversions and calculations written nearly as we speak them.

Soulver is not a calculator as such, even though it can handle any math you type at it, no matter how long the set of operations. (If you want a calculator, try PCalc.) Rather, it’s a way to work comfortably in a math and units environment for reckoning problems often needed in day-to-day life.

You can use variables to create different scenarios with the same number, track sales and commissions, or figure complicated volumetric totals without having to build a spreadsheet. Text-formatting options and commenting let you keep it all readable and self-documented, too.

For instance, instead of figuring out the calculator approach to a percentage, often requiring a specific sequence of hitting the % button, you can type into Soulver, 20% of $12.11 and be instantly presented with $2.42.

And I don’t know about you, but when I’m using a recipe with imperial measurements, making sure I get teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups correct when I’m doubling or halving? I’d rather type 8 tablespoons in cups into Soulver and find out the answer (half a cup). If you need custom units, you can add those, too.

Soulver divides itself vertically: calculations and statements appear at the left and results at the right. You can type in a large variety of math and conversions, which include straightforward calculations with parentheses and order of precedence, as you may remember from math classes: (2.5 + 7.5) * 1.11 / 10 - 15^2. (That’s -223.89, by the way.)

The revised version also offers more ways to get results by entering something that resembles plain speech while still conforming to a structure, so you can hunt for an answer through relationships of existing numbers.