Writefull: using Google to help you write

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 11.49.58 PMIt seems there is no limit to the usefulness of Google’s services. Writers around the globe use Google Search to verify the spelling or mere existence of words or phrases. Google’s spelling corrector is extremely accurate and the number of search results is a great indication of how correct the query is. Strong of millions of webpages referenced by Google, this crowdsourcing methods is useful, but it is not practical and slow.

This is where Writefull comes in. Writefull is a free application for MacOS and Windows that uses the immense collection of words and phrases referenced by Google Books or Google Web Search to help you spell correctly and write more elegantly.

Writefull works as a small popover that can be activated on top of any application. With a simple keyboard command, a small window appears on top of your word document, web browser or email software.

A Writefull popup can appear on top of any application.

A Writefull pop-up can appear on top of any application.

Three options allow you to:

  • Know how often your selected text is found in the database.
  • Enter two chunks and directly compare their number of results.
  • See how the selected text is used in context (shows examples of your selected text in the database).
  • To fill a gap in your phrase (shows which words are used most often in a context you have selected).
  • To know if there is a more appropriate word for you to use in a particular context (provides a list of the most frequently used synonyms).

The application is a great idea and has a lot going for it. It is small, rapidly accessed, and usable with any text editing application. A free version works for up to 5 words per query and is based on the Google Books database. Using phrases found in books guaranties that your query is compared to phrases written in proper english, however the queries are limited in size due to technical limitations of the database. For a fee, Writefull can be upgraded to the web version. You then pay for every word queried and unlock access to the millions of websites referenced by Google. However, be aware that incorrect english is often published online. For example, “buetiful” returns 64,800 results. Also note that only the two first functionalities are activated when using the web version of Writefull for the time being.

This is a wonderful piece of software that I would love to see grow. On my wish-list for Writefull is a spelling corrector and an automatic suggestion option (“did you mean?“). This is because in case of incorrect spelling of the query, Writefull will find no results, which tells you something is wrong with your query, but without telling you what it is. On the other hand, Google Search is extremely good at guessing approximate spelling and it would be great to exploit this fully. It would also be nice to Writefull be able to replace text in my word processor and email application once I have found the right word or phrase.