Getting Started

This tutorial helps you get started with Power BI service. If you're looking for help with Power BI Desktop, see Get started with Desktop.

Microsoft Power BI helps you stay up to date with the information that matters to you.  With Power BI, dashboards help you keep a finger on the pulse of your business.  Your dashboards display tiles that you can click to open reports for exploring further.  Connect to multiple datasets to bring all of the relevant data together in one place.

Prefer a free self-paced training course instead? Enroll in our Analyzing and Visualizing Data course on EdX.

Need help understanding the building blocks that make up Power BI?  See Power BI - Basic Concepts.

If you have important data in Excel or CSV files, you can create a Power BI dashboard to stay informed anywhere and share insights with others.  Do you have a subscription to a SaaS application like Salesforce?  Get a head start by connecting to Salesforce to automatically create a dashboard from that data, or check out all the other SaaS apps you can connect to. If you are part of an organization, see if any organizational content packs have been published for you.

Read about all the other ways to get data for Power BI.

Step 1: Get data

Here's an example of getting data from a CSV file. Want to follow along with this tutorial? Download this sample CSV file.

  1. Sign in to Power BI. Don’t have an account? You can sign up for Power BI for free.

  2. Power BI opens with a dashboard displayed. Select Get Data at the bottom of the left navigation pane.

  3. Select Files

  4. Select Local File, browse to the file on your computer, and choose Open.

  5. Power BI uploads the CSV file and adds it as a new dataset (the yellow asterisk indicates a new item).  Since we did not already have a dashboard, Power BI also created a new dashboard for us.  In the left navigation pane, the new dashboard is listed under the Dashboards heading, and the new dataset appears under the Datasets heading. 

Step 2: Start exploring your dataset

Now that you have connected to data, explore to find insights.  When you've found something you want to monitor, you can create a dashboard to keep up-to-date with changes.

  1. Select the dataset image on the dashboard to explore the data you just connected to or, under the Datasets heading, select the dataset name to open it. This opens the dataset as a blank report.

    NOTE: Another way to explore your data is Quick Insights. For more information, see Introduction to Quick Insights

  2. In the Fields list on the right side of the page, select fields to build a visualization.  Select the checkbox beside Gross Sales and  Date.

  3. Power BI analyzes the data and creates a visual.  If you selected Date first, you'll see a table.  If you selected Gross Sales first, you'll see a chart. Switch to a different way of displaying your data. Try changing to a line chart by selecting the line chart option.

  4. When you have a visualization you want on your dashboard, hover over the visualization and select the Pin icon.  When you pin this visualization, it will be stored on your dashboard so you can track the latest value at a glance.

  5. Because this is a new report, you need to save it before you can pin a visualization from it to the dashboard. Give your report a name (e.g., Sales Over Time) and select Save and Continue

    The new report appears in the navigation pane under the Reports heading.

  6. Pin the tile to an existing dashboard or to a new dashboard. 

    • Existing dashboard: select the name of the dashboard from the dropdown.
    • New dashboard: type the name of the new dashboard.
  7. Select Pin.

    A Success message (near the top right corner) lets you know the visualization was added, as a tile, to your dashboard.

  8. Open the dashboard you just created. To do this, select the name under the Dashboards heading in the left navigation pane. Because the dashboard is new, it will have a yellow asterisk. The line chart is pinned, as a tile, to the dashboard. Make your dashboard even better by renaming, resizing, linking, and repositioning tiles.

    Select the new tile on your dashboard to return to the report any time.

Step 3: Continue exploring with Q&A (natural language querying)

  1. For a quick exploration of your data, try asking a question in the Q&A box. The Q&A question box is located at the top of your dashboard. For example, try typing "what segment had the most revenue".

  2. Select the pin icon  to show this visualization on your dashboard too.

  3. Pin the visualization to the Financial Sample dashboard.

  4. Select the back arrow  to return to your dashboard where you'll see the new tile.

Ready to try more?  Here are some great ways to explore more of Power BI.

Not quite ready to jump right in? Start with these topics designed to help you feel comfortable with Power BI.

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