Using Power BI on an Apple Mac Computer: Solutions and Options

Apr 29, 2024

By Ciaran Deely

Navigating the complexities of integrating Power BI into a Mac environment can be challenging due to its native compatibility with Windows. However, through innovative workarounds and technological advancements, Mac users now have multiple viable options to leverage Power BI's powerful analytics and reporting capabilities. This blog delves into the pros and cons of seven distinct methods to run Power BI on a Mac, aiding users in selecting the most suitable approach for their specific needs. 





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Cloud-Based Power BI Service

Easy access, no installation needed

Internet-dependent, limited features

Basic to intermediate analysis tasks

Free basic plan, Pro plan starts at $9.99/user/month



Remote Desktop Applications

Full Power BI functionality

Latency issues, dependent on internet speed

Users needing full functionality remotely

Free to use, may require Windows license for the host PC



Virtual Machines (VMs)

Complete Windows environment on Mac

Costs for VM software, Windows license

Users who need full Windows compatibility

Varies by VM software; Windows license required



Boot Camp Assistant

Direct access to Power BI on native Windows

Not available for Apple Silicon; requires rebooting

Users with Intel-based Macs who need full Power BI features

Free, Windows license required

Boot Camp Assistant is built into macOS. You can find it in the Utilities folder of your Applications.



No full Windows install needed

Potential compatibility issues, lower performance

Users running lightweight Windows apps

Free to low cost, depending on the emulator



Remote Desktop Solutions

Full Power BI functionality

Performance depends on remote PC's connection

Users needing to access a Windows PC remotely

Free to use, may require Windows license for the host PC



Parallels Desktop for M1 Mac

Enables running Power BI on M1 Macs

Requires Parallels Desktop, may impact performance

M1 Mac users needing to run Power BI

Starts at $79.99/year for the standard edition

The choice of method largely depends on your specific needs, such as the level of Power BI functionality required, budget constraints, and whether you prefer cloud-based solutions or installing Windows on your Mac. Each method has its unique advantages and limitations. For instance, cloud-based services offer simplicity and accessibility, making them suitable for users with basic to intermediate data analysis needs. In contrast, solutions like Boot Camp or virtual machines provide a more robust experience for users requiring the full capabilities of Power BI, albeit with higher complexity and potential costs. For users seeking a balance between functionality and ease of use without the need for complex setups or additional costs, cloud-based Power BI services are highly recommended. However, for those requiring extensive use of Power BI's features and who don't mind the extra steps or costs involved, using Parallels Desktop (for M1 Macs) or Boot Camp (for Intel-based Macs) might be the preferred option.

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