WhiteSmoke Software Review

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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.


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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130 thoughts on “WhiteSmoke Software Review”

  1. Thanks for the review. My office bought White Smoke in the latter part of 2007 and I used it for a while, but found it frustrating. I agree with Ali that the frustration resulted from the fact that I’m already confident about my spelling and grammar (and their enrichment suggestions were never helpful for me).

    This product, however, wasn’t written for me! It would be useful for ESL writers and students who have problems with constructing grammatical sentences on their own. Those people often ask good writers for help or suggestions, so we can recommend a trial of this product.

  2. I particularly enjoyed reading about the WhiteSmoke Software Review. I guess that just goes to show – you can have all the gadgets along with grammar and spelling check softwares that can be found. Bottom line: you still have to know your grammar and spelling to decide if the rules apply or should be ignored.

  3. I agree with Ellen. I purchased WhiteSmoke several years ago when I had another computer. I thought then that the software was a bit pricey but expected it would be worth it. However, after months of frustration and annoyance I finally deleted it.

    This program , I believe, is more suited for individuals trying to learn English as a second language

  4. At the time that I purchased WhiteSmoke, it was approx $55(USD).
    But again, that was a few years back, so I would expect the price has increased.

  5. Call me old-fashioned …. But I cannot see any benefit to WhiteSmoke or any other “proofreading/editing” software. When it comes to writing well, there is no substitute for the human brain and years of learning and using the English language. There are simply too many “rules,” exceptions to rules, and linguistic oddities.

    As far as Ali’s suggestion that such software would be excellent for people learning EFL, I must strongly disagree. I have tutored students of English as Second Language since 1999, and I believe this would be a nightmare for these people. Without a basic knowledge of English grammar (as native speakers have), how would a non-native speaker even know to question the software’s suggestion to put a “full stop” (a period) in a place it does not belong?

    Thanks, but no thanks. If you don’t trust your own skills, hire a proofreader or copyeditor.

  6. Hello there:
    English is my fourth language. When, I write research papers in english I need to reread several times- much more than the native speakers. If the software, known as WhiteSmoke save my time I willing to buy. I asked the company if they can send me the sofware for a trial. They do not want to send their software for a trail. They do not give a refund gurantee.

    I would like to hear the opinion of ESL teachers and students if the software worth buying.

  7. Good Afternoon,

    I’m going around to review websites to warn people about the 2009 version and the non-existent customer support. I purchased the Creative Writing version of this program on 10/5/2008. I was only able to access the General program. I contacted customer support and I got a form email that I would be contacted in within three days. No contact occurred. Then four days later, the program simply stopped working. Again, my requests for customer support were ignored. I requested my money back per their refund policy on 10/10/2008. I have received no response nor my money back. Beware! This program feels like a scam.

  8. Whitesmoke can be good software but if you cause any problem you will understand what really whitesmoke is.
    I send several e-mails to their support department. During this period, I received several advertisements but no answer.
    So If you want to buy this software think twice.

  9. Whitesmoke is just another hypeware. It is a waste of money.

    Install an upgrade will automatically popup a promotion windows each time you boot the system. I never seen any company that so arrogant to do that to the customer. It check grammar and suggest word no better than MS Word – Hit Shft+F7 in word will get a much bigger list of word.

    Don’t buy into the “review” hypes.

  10. Great to hear all those people giving insight to WHITE SMOKE. I believe it has potential to become one of the commercial big bang, but the guys there have to work very very hard. (1) it should not be internet dependant. (2) Instead, bring out better version with more punch periodically (3) must spend lot of man power (because it simply requires lot of sentenses and words and syntaxes to be cramed in the software. It is not like mathmatical formula. you are dealing with human language and you know what I mean. Also they have to – naturally – spend lot of money…. for the present it seems it is just good for the english learners…. I almost bought it…. no, not now…. thanks.

  11. Whitesmoke is the worst software i saw in my life. When i buy it they does not refer that you must be connected to the internet to be able to use it, It seems that i buy fish in a water. Plus their support is very bad, when you send to their support email you will receive their answer after week or more. When i ordered the software i received email indicating that i will receive the license for full software activation within 48 hours but this not happens at all, till now 15 days from my purchase and no feedback. I don’t recommend Whitesmoke to any one. I decided to buy another software that i can use it offline and their support is good.

  12. Don’t buy this software unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE you want it. I bought it from Babylon (love that product) and was told there was a 30 day money back guarantee but no trial was available.

    Trying to get a refund has been the worst experience an so far I haven’t seen a dime. The product is no more than OK, and the customer service is UNBELIEVABLY BAD.

  13. I’m a writer and I have found that Whitesmoke is a good tool to have on board. I use it for all my reviewing. For a creative writer or a formal writer, this software is a plus, regardless of what others may say. I write in Word and between the two I feel confident. The best part about the software is the ability to check and select quickly. You can’t do that with Word alone.

  14. I have found Whitesmoke to be absolutely helpful. It’s been really great to have a tool that makes sure I catch grammatical errors before I make the embarrassing mistake of sending things written incorrectly to friends or people at work! I use version 2009, maybe the users with negative reviews had older versions, because the one I use is really an enormous help!

  15. I am very satisfied with WhiteSmoke’s ability to correct my writing and suggest ways to continuously improve. I’ve never heard of a better program that promises a grammar checker, in addition to spelling and style assistance. I am a highschool English teacher and this saves me countless hours of grading time.

    I’ve begun suggesting the program to students of mine to use at home. Great, great writing tool!

  16. After reading the commentaries, I must say I’m still skeptical. My mother tongue is french, but I sometimes need to write in english and I’m looking for something like “antidote”, which is an extraordinary french language corrector, useful for academics like myself and people whose french is not their mother tongue. Unfortunately, it seems that white smoke is a smoke screen! The website does not provide any substantial information on the software, and it looks like their customers service is really bad.

    I think I’m gonna have to write to Antidote people, asking them to come with something as awesome in english as they did in french.

  17. I have done a google search for WhiteSmoke and visited many of the “review” or “better writing” sites that recommend WhiteSmoke and they almost all seem to be sham sites set up solely to hype WhiteSmoke. You can use http://www.whois.com to look at who owns some of these sites and many are private. I would think any supposedly neutral site that has “buy WhiteSmoke” links all over the place is most likely not a valid review site. The ability to do this is an unfortunate side-effect of an open Internet.

  18. Whitesmoke is a cleverly contrived scam. The website does not clearly inform that this is a web app, and there is no ‘free’ trial. The registration process is a ruse for e-mail harvesting, and people have been complaining about having received thousands of spam e-mails from them. And finally, the software nowhere near lives up to Whitesmoke’s claims.
    Caveat emptor.

  19. I bought the general writing version in November and must say it has worked for me very well. I run all of my work e-mail through White Smoke and never worry about grammar or spelling errors anymore. The software is a huge help, I recommend it for other people with insecurities in writing.

  20. I’m a writer and was considering buying WhiteSmoke to check my most recent work. But after reading the reveiws on this sit I have changed my mind. Thanks!

  21. Another “feature” that is not mentioned anywhere in the WhiteSmoke literature is that you lose all Word formatting when you paste corrections back into your document. You have a nicely formatted Word document, copy text into WhiteSmoke to check it, and then you lose all formatting – italics, color, bolding, etc.

  22. It becomes evidently clear that any positive testimonials are from the Whitesmoke spammers and scammers themselves. We and many others have had to suffer their spam on our language forums.They have also spammed the support forums of genuine language software publishers.

  23. I did my research on writing tools and chose white smoke based on some comparisons I read on a bunch of websites. I needed something more than just what microsoft word does. I am taking a creative writing class at Florida State University to help with my book writing.

    I assure you I do not work for the company nor do I have any association with them. I am a real live customer who bought the product and am more than satisfied. It corrects your grammar and checks for awkward phrases and sentences that even a native speaker such as myself might miss.

    Also, the support was great the two times I called them (once with a billing question, once with an installation problem)

    I am happy with the product and will continue to tell others about it.

  24. I got the General Writing version a few months ago and its nice to be able to say I have already seen improvements. Since the program works via an internet connection, the lifetime license you purchase when you buy it really pays off- i’ve already noticed that some errors that were not caught before, are now fixed.

    The grammar check is a lot better than microsoft word, really no comparison. Thats what drove me to buy it in the first place.

  25. Hello, my name is not james or steve but I.m glad to read all your comments. but why one cares about comma and or full stop.
    just do the full stop when u tire of writting. that is call full stop.
    Comma is called when u can,t get your idea immediately.

    I think, I,m tired of writtting but I need a ESL teacher.

    Thank u

  26. White Smoke is a an expensive scam. The program’s suggestions are more often wrong than right. It fails to pick out passive voice, end of sentence prepositions, adverbs ending in “ly”. I could just go on and on about what the program can’t do. Microsoft Word has a much better spell and grammar checker. Most people don’t realize that when they buy the program, it will only work if you are connected to the Internet. I purchased the upgrade in hopes that there had been some improvement but the only change that I could see was the user interface. New buttons won’t help my writting and are not worth what I stupidly paid for the upgrade.

    My suggestion, don’t buy this program. Look at RightWriter or Wizards for Words.

  27. OK…quick thoughts and observations.

    Software programs have limitations; they don’t get the writing perfect. Perfect writing takes years and years of diligent editing. Whitesmoke does help the writer who lacks basic grammatical, syntax, and spelling knowledge. At times, we all do!

    Whitesmoke’s response to your first example deserves attention. A phrase is an incomplete sentence. A clause includes a noun and a verb to make a complete sentence. The comma before “and” separates two complete sentences.

    Your “fast food” example (Whitesmoke suggests “faster”) could be avoided by hyphenating: “fast-food”.

    If Whitesmoke catches glaring mistakes (we all make them), gives the writer reason to pause, then you get the value from the software. “It caught a few potentially embarrassing typos before I had a chance to hit “send” or “submit”. We all know about those mistakes that can’t be changed after we “hit ‘send’ or ‘submit'”.

    You wrote a helpful review.

  28. Hello,

    I must apologize to you all. I ignored your warnings, bought and installed WhiteSmoke. This is what happened:
    1. It fails to connect to Internet when the text to be checked exceeds two pages.
    2. It does not work offline, which a feature wan’t aware of.
    3. Except for the spell checker’s suggestions, the other ones don’t imply a real improvement.
    4. I have already sent to “support” two e-mails to request for a refund in compliance with WhiteSmoke’s refund policy and none of them have been answered yet.
    5. A piece of an advice: it is not really worth the money it costs.

    Overall, I would not recommend this software to anyone.

  29. I’m sorry to hear that the support wasn’t there because whitesmoke really is a good tool to have. You should try to email them one more time if its a support problem. If its a general dissatisfaction, I must say, I’m a professional writer and I consider the extra help to be welcomed.

    Whitesmoke catches things that I would otherwise miss (and so would Microsoft Word, which is disappointing.)

  30. I have been trying to get WhiteSmoke to refund my purchase since April 3rd. Promises to refund the money by April 10 were ignored and I can not get anyone to take immediate action to refund the money.

    They offer a 30 day trial. I used it for 10 days before requesting a refund.

  31. William, from personal experience of a purchase I made through the internet for a product that I didn’t receive, it took one month for the music company to process the refund. This may be the case with WhiteSmoke. From the little contact that I have had with them, they are very good when it comes to answering questions and sorting out problems. If I were in your shoes, I would try contacting them again.

    I am interested to hear what happens in the next while.

    In the meanwhile, if they have not refunded your money, make use of the software, for me it works.

  32. The program and the website no longer working at all, any one no about that please inform us to start the legaly progarses agints this company.


  33. This product is crap. What ever you do don’t buy it! It doesn’t come close to doing what they say it can do. I asked for a refund the same day I received it and I’m still waiting. If you own a mac, you have to run it on line, which is so inconvenient. You would have to be completely useless at writing to have this product provide any real help. DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT!

  34. Not sure which product you downloaded. I downloaded WhiteSmoke over 6 months ago.
    Since then, the software has been working without any problems. It supports most of the things it is claims to do and, over and above all those, I am also enjoying the Tutorials and the templates that are in the software. They are an unusual feature and both easy and useful.

    I don’t have a Mac, but I imagine that once on the internet it should be a good option.
    I am sure that whoever purchases the WhiteSmoke is a happy customer.

  35. WhiteSmoke did refund in full my investment without a problem, I give them credit for that. My problem is with the Mac version only as I have not used the Windows version.

  36. I use WhiteSmoke on MAC!!!!! What is the problem.?
    It works well and I think it is the same as the Windows version.

    I understand one has to be online for both versions, but why is that a problem.

    If this is how the software works, then does one really worry about being online? It doesn’t worry me in the least. The great functioning of the software is what concerns me….

  37. Whitesmoke works on all profiles. I am using it right now, and it has corrected a number of mistakes I made. It so one of the most user friendly, easy softwares to use.
    I discovered the Templates that are built in and they are wonderful and most useful. Just press and the chosen template and it is inserted.
    The explanations that are given why the software has chosen a particular word, is also a learning procedure and informative.
    I simply love the software and recommend anyone who is hesitant about downloading it,,,,, JUST DO IT. You will enjoy it as much as I am.

  38. Please do yourself a favor and don’t buy White Smoke. It’s a total waste of money.

    It doesn’t understand the meaning of “flour”, corrects it as floor.

    I wasted $ 150 on this software.

  39. I wished I had found this site before I wasted $164. After using the software, I discovered I had to put my material online. As an author that is a bit unsettling as these days people steal everything. I could not make corrections to the material I did paste in. Instead I had my Word window open with the document and the Whitesmoke window open. If you try to let whitesmoke make the corrections you could drink a pot coffee by the time it is done with three paragraphs. It is just barely more advanced than the spell checker on my computer.

    I must have the generic version because I do not see any difference between the “Creative Writing” Version and the “Business” Version and the “General” Version. Being fully disappointed with the product I asked for my money back.

    Now there’s a problem.

    First, I was decieved to believe I would be receiving a hard copy version of this. I have yet to see hide nor hair of this. From what I have read if I delete whitesmoke or need to download it for a computer rebuild I won’t be able to without repaying for it.

    Second, my total was suppose to be $99 dollars. The guy on the other end upgraded it for me without my knowledge and saw fit to give me an extra liscense supposedly to use on other computers that I did not need.

    When I called to complain I was put on hold for twenty minutes and hung up on. Called again and held on for ten minutes, got hold of a rep who had no clue how to handle my call, hung up on me, by “accident” of course. I called back and he apologized, but that took another ten minute hold. I was told to email someone else. I did and was offered thirty percent off $164 bill that should have been $99. After some debate I said fine, the program is useful on small documents and is a tad bit more advanced than microsoft. Well, I never saw the 30% off and I’m stuck with software that is really useless to me. When my computer needs updated Whitesmoke will be a puff of smoke.

    Word of advice, if you can’t get the disk and upload it yourself, don’t waste the money. They told me there would be a hard disk copy arriving in two weeks. That was four months ago. They lie- period.

    Do not buy this product. There is a reason why they call it “White Smoke”- PUFF! your money is gone!

    Is there anyone out there sueing this company yet?

  40. I had purchased WS. I was disappointed to such a degree that I asked for a refund. The software certainly can do some cool things but can’t compare to some of the other writing analysis programs (it’s only advantage is that it can be used outside of word unlike the WB program). I utterly annoyed by the the volume of emails WS was sending me after the refund request.

    Notice the amount of effort WS employees are putting into hyping their product? If you want a (very) prompt refund simply threaten to post a negative review.

  41. White Smoke is helpful for somethings, except it doesn’t work! I have a new version 2010 that they told me to install to fix some bugs. Now I have a pile of junk that will not do anything for me, except if I am typing in a webform like this one. The dictionary does not work at all. I uninstalled it and tried to get the old version back, but the old link now points to the new version. I have sent them repeated messages, yet they have not responded.
    Junk, pure junk.
    I have patiently worked with them for months to try and get it working better, but an upgrade that total breaks the software is unprofessional. Not responding, is stupid.

  42. this is the worst thing I ever seen! I’ve put a serial on this thing and change the .exe register inside the main folder. This weird will spread one million parts on your machine and I gave another million clicks on Comodo firewall to get this installed. When you uninstall it Comodo prompt you with a treat related to your explorer.exe (Win) I’m going to dump it (2nd time, I couldn’t believe and install again) right now after these lines. They don’t give you a decent trial and don’t tell you the only on-line straitjacket. Reading some lines before I agree… scam!! I do regret my time on this and I regret even more for those who put money on this — the unhappy ones (there’s different taste for everything). Sorry my English here, that means I need a program “like that” and don’t think the mail is mine, btw, do not use ordinary names for your mail. And don’t reply me because I going to loose this url after cleaning my browser, what I do every day , sorry.

  43. I’m perfectly aware of the limited capability of Whitesmoke. I’ve been using 2009 and I recently purchased 2010 to spot the very obvious errors committed by our writers. Although we have an editor, but still it offers a lot of help to check for ‘blind spots’.

    The problem began when I upgraded my Vista to Windows 7. The program is now behaving erratically. Although it launches, but after a while it stops working. I can’t copy/paste or send anything to editor. I press the hot key and it does nothing. It’s just sitting in the taskbar.

    I tried to run compatibility with XP, Vista but all in vain. I don’t know if this is still usable. By the way, I purchased the 2010 version for $84.

  44. I posted the message two above this one. The purpose for my post was to complain, but more so to hopefully get some warnings out that people can find. I searched and searched and every link took me to a white smoke ad.
    Ted, purchased 2010 for $84! Ouch. All I did was report every bug I found using 2009 under vista and their answer was to finally give me 2010 for free. It totally does not work. I had to find my 2009 download and install it back. As buggy as it is, it at least works some.
    Beware!!! Works with all e-mails and documents, is not true. They finally came right out and told me, they meant all webforms. It does not work with OpenOffice at all under 2010 and only some under 2009.
    Hope this saves somebody some money.
    It does help me catch mistakes sometimes, but it misses more than it catches.

  45. I plan to buy WS 2010, it seems helpful to me,as an ESL student,but some comments make me have too much frustration. I want to have a hard copy, told me they would mail it to me, and I will receive it in four weeks after I pay for it. But someone complain that they haven’t received the hard copies.
    Although it is only 90 bucks, I really don’t want to be deceived.

  46. Kevin,
    The hard copy I don’t think should be such an issue for you. In six months I have had at least four different downloads from them to install. So, a hard copy will be outdated very quickly.

    The install progam is only about 9MB and can be burned to a CD. With that and your license code you can install it and reinstall it. I’ve had to do the uninstall, reinstall thing so many times I lost count.

    If I was you, I would be more concerned with whether or not it does what you need. Remember, it has to have an internet connect or it is useless. The product is very slow when it does it’s corrections. It misses many errors and sometimes wipes out your text, leaving you with the letter cac. It also does not work the same from everywhere like their ads claim. In some cases it works better than others. I have had great struggles with them, but they do try to help when I have a problem.

    I expect they are over loaded with work because of all the issues with the product.

    It has potential, but many issues. Good luck.

  47. Thank you, Robert.

    So another question is: Do I need to buy their “Extended License Service”? It seems that it is yet not necessary.

    Their promtion frustrates me, I received too much different prices on the same product.

    I am also not confident to their service model, if they shut down their servers, the software means nothing. I wish they could provide an offline version, like anti-virus software, they can update it weekly.

    How about those templet in that software?I am interested in those stuffs.

  48. You are correct, very frustrating. Their product is advertisted in thousands of places on the net. I searched and searched for a product, but every time I end up at one of their ads.

    I do not know about the extended license service. I had so much trouble in the begining that they gave me a discount and then gave me the 2010 version free. So, they are committed to keeping their customers.

    There are many many templets, but I have not used them yet.

    I simply use the software as an additional form of proof reading. Being able to shift right click on any word and get a dictionary is a useful feature.

    The comment about being able to work offline has been made by so many people, but I have not seen where they are working towards that. It’s very frustrating when their servers are slow or my internet is down. Can’t do anything.

    Try and find a demo version if that exists. The software helps, but you will not know if it’s worth the money until you try it. Good writers don’t need it.

    They are constantly working on it, so I hope it gets better soon.

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