White lost a tight first frame, but showed glimpses of the class that saw him reach six world finals between 1984 and 1994 with breaks of 90, 73 and 71 helping him ease through to the quarter-finals at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
White will meet the winner of Tony Knowles or Peter Lines for a place in the semi-finals.
1997 world champion Ken Doherty also booked a place in the last eight courtesy of a 4-3 victory over fellow Irishman Rodney Goggins.
Doherty had led 2-0 before losing the next three frames as he struggled for consistency. He rallied in the final two frames of the match to secure a clash with Patrick Wallace or Darren Morgan in the last eight on Friday.
Seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry begins his campaign on Thursday night against Nigel Bond in a repeat of the 1995 world final that Hendry won 18-9.
The tournament winner collects £25,000 and also earns a place in the Champion of Champions tournament later this year.
First round results
- Ken Doherty (Ire) 4-3 Rodney Goggins (Ire)
- Patrick Wallace (NI) 2-4 Darren Morgan (Wal)
- Jimmy White (Eng) 4-1 Joe Johnson (Eng)
- Aaron Canavan (Jer) 4-3 Leo Fernandez (Ire)
- Stephen Hendry (Sco) 4-3 Nigel Bond (Eng)
- Wayne Cooper (Eng) 4-2 Gary Filtness (Eng)
- Michael Judge (Ire) 4-1 Dennis Taylor (NI)
- Tony Knowles (Eng) 0-4 Peter Lines (Eng)