/ 4 min read / Business Intelligence

How to use Power BI on Mac Devices

by Anthony Thong Do

How to use Power BI on Mac Devices

Power BI is a powerful BI tool, yet doesn't support Mac devices, sadly.

I was working for a company where 90% of our staff had a MacBook and love it, there was no way for our Data Team to work with Power BI to build out reporting. Then we turned into another tool named Holistics, a cloud-based one.

In this post, I will share with you my experience trying to implement Power BI on Mac devices, hope this would be helpful for you if you are looking for a solution.

Disclaimer: I then fall in love with Holistics, and now I'm working at Holistics.

Our Recommended Solutions

Since Power BI can't run on a Mac device, here are our recommendations to run Power BI on Macintosh Devices

  1. Install and run Power BI on a Virtual Machine, then remote to that Virtual Machine
  2. Install and run Power BI on a PC, then remote to that PC
  3. Use another alternative BI solution

Power BI's plan on Mac Devices

To give you a little context about Microsoft's plan on supporting Power BI on Mac devices, they are not considering developing Power BI desktop for Mac devices anytime soon.

You can also visit this link to keep track on their plan.

Microsoft's response on Power BI for Mac

1. Run Power BI on a Virtual Machine

You can set-up a Windows Virtual Machine on Azure, Google Cloud or AWS

Then you install and run Power BI on that Virtual Machine.

Finally, install Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac on each device to let your team access to that Machine.

Power BI for Mac - Microsoft Remote Desktop
Power BI for Mac - Microsoft Remote Desktop

Cons

  • It's hard to control permission access and version history
  • Still only one person working on a machine at a time, since Power BI for desktop is not a collaborative tool

2. Run Power BI on a PC then remote to that PC

It's a little bit the same with the first method, however, this time, you use a physical machine.

You set-up a Windows PC, install and run Power BI on that PC

Power BI for Mac - Power BI on a Surface Book

Install TeamViewer, AnyDesk, or MS Remote Desktop to let people access to that PC and use Power BI from their Mac devices

Team Viewer

Cons: same with the 1st method and you have to maintain a physical PC

3. Use other alternative BI tools

Power BI is powerful, it helps your team consolidate data and build dashboards, reports with a powerful data modeling layer. It's not easy to find a great tool in the market to replace Power BI, here are 2 alternative solutions I recommend which is 100% cloud-based, can replace its functionalities, and even more.

1. Holistics

Power BI for Mac - Alternative Solution: Holistics

Holistics is a powerful full-stack data platform that allows companies to set up an end-to-end, reusable, and scalable data analytics stack with minimal engineering resources.

It not only offers data analysts with powerful SQL-based data modeling approach, help them build a data warehouse and automate reporting but also empowers non-technical users to get insights with a strong self-service analytics offering.

Holistics vs Power BI: https://www.holistics.io/compare/holistics-vs-powerbi/

2. Looker + StitchData

Power BI for Mac - Alternative Solution: Looker

Looker is a business intelligence software and big data analytics platform that helps you explore, analyze and share real-time business analytics easily.

Looker is also a powerful SQL-based Data Modeling BI tool, however, they don't support Data Transforms and Data Imports, so you will need another additional tool for that called StitchData

Conclusion

I like Power BI's product, however, only supporting Windows Desktops makes it not scalable. Instead of allowing your data team to work collaboratively, your data pipeline will depend on a Windows desktop. That's why I recommend you, especially if you are not a Microsoft-stack organization, a 100% cloud-based solution would be more scalable and flexible for you.

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Tang Yee Jie - Senior Data Analyst, Grab

Tang Yee Jie

Senior Data Analyst, Grab