Q. I have Windows 8 set to update itself automatically, but it doesn't always work and I end up having to click around and install some updates myself. Why?
A. Like earlier versions of the operating system, Windows 8 can check to see if software updates for your computer are available from Microsoft -- and then install them for you so you don't have to remember to do it yourself. Security updates and other software patches deemed important or critical are typically installed automatically when Microsoft pushes them out. (The company often releases the updates on the second Tuesday of each month, but it can happen as needed).
But even if you have the automatic updates option turned on, not all the software Microsoft sends you will install itself. Certain types of updates, including fresh versions of programs that have new user agreements or terms of service statements, require your attention because you are asked to read the legal fine print -- or at least click the Agree button -- before you can install the software.
Some updates, like feature enhancements or updated device drivers, are considered optional and not critical to a program's ability to function. When an optional update is ready, you usually get an alert that it is available if you want it, and Windows leaves it to you to do the installation yourself.
Restoring Scroll Bars on a Mac
Q. I just got my first Mac laptop and am confused by the lack of scroll bars on the sides of the Safari browser and other windows. The scroll bars seem to appear sporadically, so how do you get around the Web on this system?
A. Recent versions of OS X keep the scroll bars on the Safari browser and other windows hidden unless you need them -- like when you are already scrolling. While the lack of scroll bars makes for a cleaner look, many people find it disorienting because of the inconsistent behavior and inability to see just where they are within a Web page.
If you would prefer to have scroll bars visible at all times, you can change the setting. To do so, go to the Apple menu and choose System Preferences, or click on the System Preferences icon in the Mac's Dock. In the Personal area, click the General icon. In the box, next to "Show scroll bars," click the button next to "Always." Close the System Preference box when you are finished.
If you are reading long articles on the Web, you can scroll down one screen at a time within the page by tapping the Space bar on the keyboard. To go back up to previous screens, hold down the Shift key while pressing the Space bar.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.