Explore with dashboards, reports, and apps in Power BI


You have a basic understanding of the role that dashboards, reports, and apps play in Power BI. It's time to examine the different ways you’ll use them to choose the content you need to make better business decisions.

Image of Power BI terminology: dashboards, reports, and apps.

Let's start with dashboards.


A Power BI dashboard is made up of tiles that, together, tell a story. Because it's limited to one page, a well-designed dashboard contains only the most important elements of that story. You can't edit the dashboard, but there are several ways to use the data to monitor your business and make data-backed decisions.

Suppose that you're the Marketing Manager for a clothing manufacturing company named Van Arsdel. The following Marketing and sales dashboard example provides you with a high-level snapshot of your business. By viewing this dashboard, you can monitor how your company is doing versus the competition.

Screenshot of a Power B I Marketing and sales dashboard.

Hover to view details

Tiles on a dashboard are more than just pictures. Hover over a tile to view details about the data behind the visual on both dashboards and reports.

Screenshot of hovering over a dashboard tile.

Open a report from a dashboard

The tiles on your dashboard are visualizations from reports. Opening a report is as simple as selecting a tile. The report opens to a page that contains the content that you selected.

Screenshot of the Power B I report opening.

Now that a report is open, you can explore it.


Collapse the nav pane

The first thing you might notice is that the navigation pane is still available for you to move around in Power BI. Because you’re going to concentrate on the report canvas at this time, collapse the navigation pane by selecting the "hamburger" icon (three horizontal lines).

Visit report pages

When you receive a new report, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the data and insights it contains. A good way to start is by visiting each of the report pages. Report page names are now in a list in a vertical pane. Select a name to display that page.

Each page has a different set of visualizations that tell a story. In this example, the Sentiment page compares how customers feel about the Van Arsdel company and industry, by month and geography. After a dip mid-year, the company’s positive sentiment is at an all-time high.

Screenshot of the Sentiment page of the report.

Change report view options

Reports can be viewed on many different devices, with varying screen sizes and aspects. By default, Power BI sets reports to Fit to page, which means you don't have to scroll, but the type might be small. On the View menu, select Actual size to view the information on the report at full size, but be aware that you might need to scroll.

Screenshot of the Power B I View menu options.

The View menu has many options that control how your report page displays. Select the option that works best for your screen size, the audience you are presenting to, and your personal preference.

To meet your accessibility needs, use the High contrast colors option.

Screenshot of the report in yellow and black.

View bookmarks in your report

A report designer might give you alternative views of the same data. For example, while one view shows data for the Central region, another view shows data for the Southern region, and a third for the Northern region. By selecting a bookmark, you can switch between the three different views of the same report page.

Not all reports have bookmarks. To determine if your report does, open the Bookmarks menu.

Screenshot of the expanded Bookmarks menu.

Understand the way your report is filtered

When a colleague shares a report with you, be sure to look at the Filters pane. Filters let your colleagues highlight specific data, usually by not showing all of the available information.

Screenshot of the expanded Filters pane.

Remember, each report page is telling a story. To fully understand the story, you need to know if filters are being applied and what those filters are.

The Filters pane shows the filters that are applied to the current report, report page, and visual (if one is selected). In the following example, the column chart is selected. Notice that there are three page filters (Segment, Year, Region), one filter applied to all report pages (Date), and three visual filters (Manufacturer, Month, and Total Units YTD Var %).

Screenshot of the Filters pane with Filters on this visual and Filters on this page highlighted.

If the filter has the word All next to it, that means every value in the field is included in the filter. On this page, all segments are included, and in the column chart, all months are included. The Filters on the page Year is 2014 tell us that this report page only includes data for the year 2014.

Enlarge a dashboard tile or report visual

Occasionally, you'll have a dashboard or report that is a little crowded. You can use Focus mode to zoom in on one visual. Hover over the visual to reveal the action menu and then select Open in focus mode or the focus icon.

Screenshot of the Power B I tile focus mode.

The visual fills the entire canvas, and you can still hover to view details and access the Filters pane.

If the view isn’t large enough, open that same visual in full screen mode so that it fills your entire screen. Notice that all the menu bars disappear, except for the Filters pane.

Screenshot of Power B I in full screen mode.

This mode is often used for presentations because you can even display entire dashboards and entire report pages in full screen mode.

Screenshot of the report page in full screen mode.