Get started with Power BI service

This tutorial helps you get started with Power BI service. For an understanding of how Power BI service fits in with the other Power BI offerings, we highly recommend that you start by reading What is Power BI.

Power BI service has a free version and a Pro version. No matter which version you're using, open a browser and type to get started. If you've already signed up, select the Sign in link that you'll see in the top right corner. If you haven't yet signed up for Power BI service, select the Sign up free link instead.

If you're looking for help with Power BI Desktop, see Get started with Desktop. If you're looking for help with Power BI mobile, see Power BI apps for mobile devices.


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

Visit our playlist on YouTube. A good video to start with is Introduction to Power BI service:

Microsoft Power BI helps you stay up to date with the information that matters to you. With Power BI service, 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. 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 apps 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? No worries, you can sign up for free.
  2. Power BI opens in your browser. 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. For this tutorial we're going to select Import to add the Excel file as a dataset that we can then use to create reports and dashboards.


    If you select Upload, the entire Excel workbook is uploaded to Power BI where you can open and edit it in Excel online.

  6. When your dataset is ready, select View dataset to open it in the report editor. .


    A great way to get familiar with the report editor is to take a tour

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.


    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. Select Go to dashboard to see your new dashboard with the pinned til. 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 for Exit Q&A to return to your dashboard where you'll see the new tile.

Next steps

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.

Stay in touch with Power BI

More questions? Try asking the Power BI Community