While WhiteSmoke has a clean, uncluttered design compared to other grammar checkers, the suggestions it provides are often inaccurate. The system’s inability to follow along as you browse the web or use digital composition software also makes it cumbersome.
If you’re a student or English Language learner, a grammar checker is a great idea in theory. But, right now, the technology isn’t sophisticated enough to keep you safe from errors. If you’re not quite confident enough in your skills to know when a grammar checker makes a mistake, you should stick with a human editor until the systems improve.
Initially, I was impressed with the sheer number of errors WhiteSmoke picked up when I copied and pasted my sentence test document into the software. However, once I evaluated the quality of each of the suggestions, I was disappointed. Many were flat out wrong and made the already problematic sentences worse.
WhiteSmoke wasn’t sophisticated enough to correct problems with prepositions or passive voice in my testing. While it found some comma errors, it missed others in more complicated sentences. Occasionally, the software suggested an incorrect change to a word or a phrase because it failed to catch the bigger problems within the sentence. Unlike Grammarly, which does a good job understanding the content of sentences so it can create suggestions to fix mistyped or misused words, WhiteSmoke can’t quite make the necessary leaps to give good feedback.
I also found some typos in the grammar-checker suite. In its site copy, WhiteSmoke misspelled the word “sentence” as “sentense” – I wouldn’t recommend using a grammar checker service that doesn’t copy edit its own site.
The feedback in the program is minimal. Grammarly, our top pick, has a scrolling feature that keeps its suggestion separate from your text and lets you move throughout the document, but WhiteSmoke inserts its suggestions in a line just above your writing. The service has a translator and a plagiarism checker, but you have to copy and paste your text into three different places before getting comprehensive feedback. The features on the translator worked well as far as I could tell, but you can get a very similar service online with Google Translate for free.
On the lower right-hand side of the screen in the lesson suite, there is some information about the quality of your writing. When I ran my sentence test document through WhiteSmoke, with over 50 errors in just over 500 words, the site gave it an overall score of good or excellent. Just above the chart, the software gives your writing a score out of 100, and the test document did receive a 60 out of 100, which graded would be a D-. However, I did found the positive feedback misleading in a paper so full of errors.
WhiteSmoke’s suite is uncluttered, and there is a single icon in the top corner of the text checker. Just like ProWritingAid, and to some extent, Grammarly, this is a review-based software. You copy a completed document into the suite so you can review it before submission. The problem with WhiteSmoke’s design is that after you run the initial check, it doesn’t allow you to change anything within the doc without losing all the other feedback. You either accept the suggestions or you have to keep running your document through the checker; this clunky system slows down your editing.
Once you download the software, you’re supposed to be able to hit F2 to bring it up to check your text boxes or Word documents. I didn’t have any success using the F2 button to initialize a session. Instead, I had to open it separately. Additionally, the cursor you use to navigate the site isn’t the best.
WhiteSmoke’s clipboard doesn’t remember what you last copied and pasted. You need to drop the text immediately into the document from the place you’re working on it. For someone who works in multiple windows, this can be a bit of a pain.
When I tried using the tools in the suite, I had limited success in getting them to take me anywhere. The settings toolbar icon only has information about client ID, and the system didn’t respond to simple clicking actions when I tried to explore the options on the site. You can’t add words to your dictionary or ignore feedback in WhiteSmoke.
The system had trouble processing our payment. Also, it took several business days for the company to get back to me when I encountered problems on its site or had questions about its software while writing this article. I connected with a representative via live chat once but didn’t see actionable follow through on the part of the technician once the session ended. I also tried contacting the service through email several times. Generally, I was unimpressed with my experience with this software.
WhiteSmoke needs to improve the algorithm it uses to detect errors; a simpler, more efficient system for checking your text in the programs and on sites you use; and more intricate feedback so you can continue to learn and grow as a writer. The company rolls out updates regularly, and you might want to check back for improvements before investing in this program.