WhiteSmoke Software Review

By Ali Hale

Editor’s Note: WhiteSmoke has been a sponsor of the blog for a while, and we often get emails from readers asking how good their software are. That is why we decided to review it. But keep in mind we did not get paid to do it. Ali Hale did the review for us, and I asked her to be completely transparent with it.

First Impressions

I found WhiteSmoke very easy to install and get started with. It checks the grammar, spelling and readability of everything that you write (it will do this whilst running in the background, or you can load up the program directly). It’s a bit like a very advanced and more intelligent version of Microsoft Word’s spelling and grammar checker.

I liked the way it automatically checked my typing in not only Microsoft Word but also in emails and when leaving comments using web forms. It caught a few potentially embarrassing typos before I had a chance to hit “send” or “submit”…

Testing WhiteSmoke

I tried running a few pieces of my regular writing through WhiteSmoke to see what it would say. This passage came from a piece I was writing for my blog The Office Diet:

Now you know what calories are and you know how to figure out how many are in your food … you just need to know how many you should be eating.

WhiteSmoke suggested putting a comma after the words “calories are”, and when I clicked to find out why, I was told:

Explanation: This sentence requires a comma to separate its clauses and improve clarity.
Definition: Two coordinated clauses should be divided by a comma.

So far so good: I agree that the sentence is improved when rewritten as:

Now you know what calories are, and you know how to figure out how many are in your food…

The next suggestion, however, was to put a full stop after “out” and before “how”, which would make the sentence:

Now you know what calories are and you know how to figure out. How many are in your food …

This time, when I asked why, WhiteSmoke explained “Two distinct sentences have to be divided by a full stop [period].” However, these were not two separate sentences, and putting a full stop here would lose meaning. I suspect the use of “figure out” (which is quite informal or colloquial) confused the software.

My frequent use of bullet points, rather than conventional paragraphs, also caused a few issues:

  • It suggested putting a period after the first bullet, but not after others. (Conventional advice is that you do not need to use periods for bullets consisting of short phrases, but if you do use periods, you should be consistent.)
  • WhiteSmoke believed that “Your weight” and “Your activity levels” should be “You’re weight” and “You’re activity levels” respectively. Again, I suspect the use of bullets and fragments rather than full sentences caused this confusion.

Sometimes, the software didn’t recognise what role a particular word was playing in a sentence. In the following example, the word “fast” is an adjective modifying “food”, but WhiteSmoke believed it was a verb:

They found that those who skipped breakfast tended to eat more fast food.

I was advised to “Change ‘more’ to ‘faster’”. I can understand where the confusion came – “more fast” would be poor grammar if the sentence was “I ran more fast than Billy.” But my sentence was correct as it stood.

Enrichment Suggestions

WhiteSmoke makes a number of enrichment suggestions which can help improve the flow or style of your writing. For example, one of these came up for me when it recommended changing “And” in:

And your muscle mass is also important

to “Furthermore”, “In addition”, or “Moreover”. I would probably have picked one of these if I’d been writing a more formal piece, but for a blog post, I don’t think starting with “And” is a problem.

Verdict

I enjoyed using the WhiteSmoke software, and found it was particularly good at spotting typos as I wrote. It could seem a little intrusive at times (a small window pops up in the right hand side of the screen as you type, when the software is running), so I usually turned it off when writing fiction or informal emails as I tended to get a lot of warnings about these!

There were a few occasional slips when the software didn’t understand the meaning of what I’d written, but so long as you don’t just accept every suggestion automatically, these infrequent mistakes shouldn’t cause too many problems.

I think it would be an excellent piece of software for:

  • People learning English as a foreign language
  • Students writing academic essays
  • Anyone producing a formal business-related piece (perhaps a report, or a job application)
  • Freelancers writing for print or traditional markets

You might find the WhiteSmoke software frustrating if:

  • You mainly write fiction or poetry (especially if you use a lot of dialogue or your style involves breaking grammatical rules)
  • Your emails and other non-fiction writing tend to be very informal
  • You use a lot of bullet points or other sentence fragments
  • You’re already very confident about your spelling and grammar

Overall, WhiteSmoke is a very easy to use, intuitive piece of software, and considerably cheaper than paying a proof-reader to check your work!

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128 Responses to “WhiteSmoke Software Review”

  • Joy

    I purchased a life-long license from Whitesmoke but it was expired for no reason after i used it for several months. Whitesmoke did not answer any emails and phone calls, so there is no solution so far. I am wondering is the company still exist since there is no any response from their customer service. However, I got 3-4 advertisement emails from Whitesmoke per week that promoting their products. What happened to the company?

  • Muayad Ahmed

    The worst custom service in whitesmoke. I purchased the lifetime version and withing 10 months I got “Licesense expired” No one else used my copy. no help from customer service

  • Ivan

    Do not waste your time and money with WhiteSmoke. It is a scam.
    The company is going to bankrupt. They cancel user accounts much earlier. You will find so many negative comments and reviews on Internet about scamming with user subscriptions.

    I suggest you to use Grammarly or LanguageTool. The second one is free and really woks well.

  • Louise

    Two days ago I purchased the upgrade to my ‘Basic Lifetime’ subscription. Uncertain as to the actual cost when already running the program, I received no response to my emails and ph messages for over a week. and thenI finally got ‘Ariela’ on Live Chat. It seemed a bit suspicious when ‘she’ took another $50 off the ‘today only’ special when I said I’d have to wait a day. I kept her on the line while I followed her links to the download >> and then to the Mac version. The moment I asked if there’s an upgrade for the latest Yosemite Mac update — she disappeared. No response — no way, no how — from anyone, phones not answering, ‘live chat’ not responding. I’m calling my bank to cancel this payment. Argh!

  • Ganesh

    Dangerous software. STAY AWAY. Lifetime subscriptions works less than 6 months, no response to support tickets, malware warnings, very complicated to remove, a good firewall shows more than 20 warnings just to uninstall the software. A very serious scam. BE CAREFUL…

  • Doug Baker

    Whitesmoke language/grammar software provides terrible customer service, offers less than adequately functional versions of its software, and fails to keep supporting its “one-time” purchased licenses. Do not trust this company or buy its software. For example, it sold unending registrations for Version 2012, then canceled services after 12-24 months. After that it tried to force the purchase of a new version, perhaps again as another “one-time” endless agreement that will also will not be honored. The recent Version #8 was loaded with countless usage difficulties when released, including reporting of many non-errors that still continue after a year. While this software does a good job of catching many or even most mistakes in general, in practice V8 is almost more trouble than it’s worth in the final analysis. In reality, the company’s technical department can only be reached about problems by email. The sales department—the sole number that can be readily found – will almost never transfer calls to customer support. Initial messages to tech support are then auto-answered by email, promising that the company’s staff will get back to the customer soon. Nothing ever happens, and a few days later a second email arrives saying that, since the company has not heard from the customer again, “the case will be closed” unless the customer contacts the company within 48 or 72 hours. Replies to these auto emails are thereafter unanswered. Since there is no way to call tech-support directly, this “circle jerk” never ends, and is a tremendous waste of customer’s time, as well as incredibly frustrating and therefore, infuriating.

  • Kevin

    I purchased a lifetime license for v2012 (full package) and it was invaluable. I upgraded and purchased their new V8, also a life time license which was supposed to launch mid 2013, I only got it 3rd month of 2014.
    Six months later September 2014, BOTH versions of WhiteSmoke stopped working after they revoked the licenses with the popup message saying my licenses have expired and I must purchase again.
    Their support is NON EXISTENT, they do not answer their phone support, they do not respond to their online support and their online chat support is dead with the error message that it cannot be connected on ‘this’ server. (whatever that means)

    DO NOT PURCHASE this software, is my warning to ALL. I am highly disappointed !!!

  • SDC in Vancouver

    I’m surprised that the comments end in May of 2012 because WhiteSmoke is still going strong.

    I’m embarrassed to say that I too was ‘smoked’ by them. I purchased their full package for $99.95 in 2008 (transaction ID: 65L2280xxxxxxxx) and my problems began….
    1) I paid an extra $19.99 for this English training course. I thought would be useful for my students (in ESL) but upon review, it was a terrible and poorly constructed on-line course, seemingly created by someone new to English. It took several emails but I did get my refund via PayPal.

    2) WS was barely functional and crashed a lot! It mangled text (echoing what others have said) and eventually I dumped it after buying a new computer a few months later.

    3) Sometime in late 2009, I attempted to re-install it and discovered that my license had expired! What? I was assured that I was purchasing a perpetual (forever) license.

    4) When I wrote WS about this, I received two really odd phone calls from them,…implying that I lied that I was told that my license was supposed to be perpetual… the calls bordered on abusive or the very least, unprofessional.

    5) Jumping ahead to 2013, I still receive WhiteSmoke emails (totally 293 – not including the deleted ones). TBF, some are useful – i.e. grammar and writing tips. Anyhow, I was considering an upgrade, thinking the product has improved after five years. For $99, I can purchase a real perpetual license (as stated on their website). Question is, can I trust them, is their product any use? I am a writer looking for a tool to catch errors before I proof read.

    After reading the comments here, I am now doubtful. Thank you!

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