If you’re anything like me, you use the Calculator app on your iPhone fifty times a day, and you’ve been sick of the same user interface since iOS 11 came out. While you can’t adjust the shape and size of the buttons, there is a way to revive your calculations with a calculator theme.
By default, Calculator has a black background, a dark gray keyboard, light gray and orange modifier keys, and white input / result text. And it stays the same whether you use dark mode or not. Even Smart Invert, Dark Mode’s older brother, doesn’t affect the way Calculator looks on your iPhone.
But there is still a way to change the color scheme of Apple̵
The best thing about customizing Calculator with your own colors is that it doesn’t apply to certain themes device-wide. If you know anything about classic inversion or color filters, it’s that it affects the entire screen until it turns off. But with the Shortcuts app, you can automate it so that your color scheme turns on automatically when you open Calculator and then turns off when you close it.
Automation of the calculator’s color change
In iOS 14 or later, you can automate certain color schemes to turn on when you open Calculator and then turn them off when you close it. Before we know which one to use, let’s go through the general process you’ll use to automate your new look:
- Open shortcuts.
- Open the “Automation” tab.
- Choose “Create Personal Automation” (you may need to click the plus icon first).
- Select ‘App’.
- Tap ‘Choose’ next to App
- Find and select ‘Calculator’.
- Press “Done”.
- Leave “Is Opened” checked and also check “Is Closed”.
- Press “Next”.
- Add the appropriate action or actions (see options below).
- Tap “Rotate” and choose “Swap” for each action instead.
- Press “Next”.
- Turn off the “Ask Before Running” switch.
- Press “Don’t ask” to confirm.
- Press “Done”.
Colors that work with the automation
Not all color options work with the above automation, but many do, and you can combine them to further customize the look of the Calculator interface colors.
Option 1: Set Classic Invert
Classic Invert changes the look to a reverse color scheme, ie all colors change to their opposites. White turns black, black turns white, oranges turn blue, light gray turns dark gray, and dark gray turns light gray.
Option 2: Set the white point
White point reduces the intensity of the white on the screen, but it affects the entire screen, not just the parts that are only white. It basically reduces all the white areas to be less overwhelming, but it also lowers the intensity of the other colors on the screen to compensate for this.
Option 3: Set zoom (grayscale)
The premise of Zoom is what you’d expect: it zooms in on the screen. However, it has other features that work, and you don’t even really need to zoom in on the screen to use them.
Zoom filters come in four shades and each can be preset from Settings -> Accessibility -> Zooming -> Zoom Filter. You can also change them after activating Zoom from the Zoom menu, accessible via a triple tap on the screen with three fingers; select in the menu “Choose filter” and choose your gif.
If the screen is zoomed in after activating Zoom, use three times with three fingers on the screen to open the Zoom menu and drag the zoom slider all the way to the left. It should remember your choice in the future.
Grayscale becomes Calculator all black, gray, dark gray, and white.
Option 4: Set Zoom (Grayscale Inverted)
Grayscale reversed, Calculator also makes black, gray, dark gray, and white all over, but inverts the colors. The biggest change you will notice is that the background is white instead of black.
Option 5: Set zoom (low light)
Low Light works in the same way as the White Point option above, so you won’t notice much difference in Calculator when you compare the two.
Option 6: Combine them all
Any of the above options can be combined for a different look, but only a few make sense. For example, using Classic Invert and using the low light filter inverts all colors and then applies the low light filter so everything looks washed out.
There are other options, but they don’t have much effect on Calculator. The reverse filter in Zoom is the same as Classic Invert, but you could use that instead of Classic Invert if you’d like. There is also “Set Increase Contrast”, but you will not notice anything happening even with other color options enabled. “Set Light / Dark Mode” and “Set Smart Invert” have no effect, as I said.
Use color filters instead
Color filters are for color blind people or have trouble seeing or distinguishing certain things on the screen, but anyone can use them. It’s a step beyond zoom filters, and it gives you a lot of options from grayscale to red / green to green / red and blue / yellow, and you can even color the screen in any shade.
The only problem is there is no automated way to enable them. So if you want to use them to use Calculator, you have to enable them when you open the app and then disable them when you exit.
The easiest way to manually turn on / off color filters is through the “Accessibility Shortcut” in the “Accessibility” preferences. Then, triple-click the side or home button to activate it in Calculator, and do it again when you exit Calculator (unless you want to leave this option on for other apps).
To choose your colors, go to Settings -> Accessibility -> Display & Text Size -> Color Filters. Enable the feature and you will see all available filter options. There is grayscale, which you can implement with any of the above automated methods, so don’t worry about that.
Each protanopia, deuteranopia, and tritanopia filter has an intensity slider so you can adjust the color change accordingly. The Color Tone option has an Intensity slider and a Tint slider.
Things can get easier in the future
You probably won’t know which look to choose unless you experiment. So it’s worth trying all of the above options to see which one works best for you. It would be nice if Apple eventually added Color Filters to the list of available shortcut actions, or at least to the Back Tap options. Until then, we have to get crafty.
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