Is It Even Possible to Use Power BI on Mac?
The answer is, yes! Power BI has basically 2 parts – one is Power BI desktop and the other is Power BI service. Power BI service is a cloud service, so it doesn’t matter what kind of machine you’re using. But it matters for Power BI desktop, which you heavily use to develop data models and reports in Power BI.
And the problem is, Power BI desktop is only available on Windows. However, there are ways to use Power BI on a Mac machine. In fact, I’m a Mac user and I still use Power BI on my Mac. I personally like the experience using Mac than Windows in general (I love Mac’s touch pad).
2 Ways to Use Power BI Desktop on Mac
Using a VM
One way is to use a VM (virtual machine). There are many ways to host a VM, but popular choices are using services like Virtual Box, VMWare, and Parallell. A VM allows you to install another operating system on your laptop. It’s not physically there, thus, called virtual machine.
You can seamlessly switch between Mac and Windows. It’s like your Windows VM is an app on your Mac machine.
One issue I experienced is that a Mac machine gets really hot when running a VM, which I didn’t like. And it also uses a lot of RAM and it could get a little laggy here and there. For that reason, I recommend another way, which I explain below.
Using Boot Camp Assistant on Mac
Another way is to use Boot Camp Assistant on Mac. This is the option I’m using when I use Power BI desktop. What Boot Camp Assistant is that you take a part of your Mac storage and install a Windows OS on it.
A prerequisite for this is that you need a Intel chip. If your Mac uses Apple M1 chip then, this is not am option.
With Boot Camp Assistant, you will need to restart your machine every time you want to switch between Mac and Windows OS, but as far as my experience goes, this is a better option than a VM. It’s almost like you have two machines on one machine.
A con for this is that you can’t switch between Mac and Windows like you do in VM. That also means some Mac specific touch pad gestures won’t be available when running Windows OS.
You should try one of the options I introduced and see what you like. It’s definitely possible to run Power BI desktop on a Mac machine!
P.S. There is actually another way of running Power BI desktop on Mac. That is using a service called turbo.net. It’s basically a VM in a browser. I didn’t include that option above because I haven’t had a chance to actually use it yet. You can watch this youtube video from guy in a cube. They introduce turbo.net for Power BI desktop on Mac.