Remembering Calculator and Character Map Settings

Here’s an odd little one you might not have noticed.  The Windows Calculator applet remembers whether it was last displayed in “Standard” or “Scientific” view, and whether digit grouping was selected, and restores those settings the next time you use it.  Because this applet dates back to the very early days of Windows, it saves these settings in the win.ini file in the Windows folder.  There are two problems with this:  1) the settings apply to all users of the computer, and 2) you need to be an administrator to write your settings into this file.  Likewise, the Character Map applet remembers the last font and codepage selected, and whether “Advanced view” was checked – but only if the user is an admin.


The odd thing is that Windows NT and its successors have always had a mechanism to redirect .ini file access to the registry.  For some reason, this was never applied to calc.exe or charmap.exe.  But you can fix this.


Warning If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.


·        Run regedit.exe as an administrator

·        Browse to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\IniFileMapping\win.ini

·        To “fix” Calculator, create a new String value called SciCalc.  Set the data for this string value to

·        To “fix” Character Map, create a new String value called MSUCE.  Set the data for this string value to:

·        Reboot the computer.  (Rebooting is required only if you have used Calculator or CharMap since the previous reboot.)


This will cause the applications’ settings to be written to the registry under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\SciCalc and HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\CharMap, respectively.  The application settings are now per-user, and admin is no longer required to save settings!


Thanks to Michael Entin for the CharMap fix.

Comments (14)

  1. Stefan Kanthak says:


    There is already an (apparently unused) entry for "MS CharMap" in Windows 2000 and XP. Will this be removed?

    Other "applets" installed with Windows have their entries below HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionApplets. Shouldn’t this be the place for SciCalc and CharMap`too?

  2. No idea about whether the apparently unused entry will be removed. As far as whether HKCU…Applets would be the proper place for SciCalc and CharMap – my guess is simply that these applets go back to Windows 3.0 and probably earlier, when win.ini was where the settings were stored. It was *probably* considered not worth the risk/effort to touch that portion of the code for those and many other apps/applets, particularly when the IniFileMapping mechanism was available.

  3. tonyso says:

    If you have not read Jen’s article on LUA, you should be asking yourself why not?

    This article…

  4. Complete list of Aaron Margosis’ non-admin / least privilege posts, for easy lookup.

  5. tonyso says:

    Get your friends and family, all those folks that come to you for computer help once their machines have…

  6. Googie says:

    Thanks for tip dude…

    very helpful

    Wish I had admin privileges on my comp 🙁

  7. Mitchell says:

    Does anybody know where i can download the microsoft character map and calculator from? mine are missing.

  8. Mitchell: they aren’t downloadable – they are part of the OS. I don’t think you can even not install them or uninstall them using the Add/Remove Programs UI (you can probably choose not to install them if you use a customized unattended installation script). Are the Start menu shortcuts missing, or the actual executables? You should find both charmap.exe and calc.exe in %windir%system32. Character Map is in the Accessories System Tools submenu of the Start menu; Calculator should be in Accessories.


  9. A systematic approach for working around LUA bugs that avoids unnecessary exposure

  10. Tyler says:

    Uhhh yea mine are missing too. I think it might of happened when I uninstalled the IE 7 program. I found the new calculator software luckily but not the char map.

  11. Mike says:

    Aaron, you can remove the calculator and other ‘built-in’ apps from the add/remove programs ui quite easily.

    Have a look at for more info.

  12. Pete says:

    Any chance MS could create a Help & Support article for this article as it always takes me half an hour to find it every time I run in to the problem again.

  13. Marcia says:

    Yours is a very old post but I’m hoping I can still get a response. I did a font cleanout, and although I did not delete any protected fonts, I lost the default font for the calculator. All the sites I found said Segoe UI Light was the font used, but I had *not* deleted that font (it is protected anyway). Even “Restore Default Fonts” didn’t work. I finally had to do a system restore (fortunately, I made a restore point just last night), but I’d still like to know (a) what the default font in Calculator really IS, and (b) where that default is set. Having done the restore, I now have 683 fonts again, and I really don’t want them all installed, but now I’m paranoid about removing any.

    [Aaron Margosis] Why are you deleting fonts? I’d think it would be very hard to tell whether there’s some app or system component depending on them.
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