Power BI is a tool used by businesses to visualize data and share insights on operational processes, marketing campaigns, etc. In other words, it is an analytics solution that companies use to make sense of their data.
Unfortunately, Power BI is a Windows-only application, so it does not run on Mac. However, if you use a Mac device, but don’t want to miss out on this powerful data machine that is dominating the business intelligence space, then there’s a way you can still run the application on your system.
In this article, I will teach you how to use a Power BI on a Mac OS. This method is completely free and you will only need to install the free Microsoft remote desktop 10 application from the app store.
This method is not rocket science and will only take you a few minutes. In fact, anyone with a little bit of computer knowledge will easily get the hang of it.
Let’s dive in.
If you already have an account on Amazon AWS, you can follow along since you will still have access to a free Windows server. However, if you are a new user, you can create an account for free to get 12 months’ worth of resources from Amazon.
Once you have created your AWS account and installed the remote desktop app platform, the next thing to do is to run the instance to install Power BI. To do that, first, go to the Services tab on the AWS page header menu and select the ec2 option. Ensure that you are selecting the region where you want the instance to be.
It is best practice to select the data center that is closest to you because the closer the data center, the faster the connection to that instance.
After selecting your region, it’s time for you to create a key pair. If you already have an account, then it is likely that you will have a lot of key pairs, but if this is your first time using AWS, then you will need to create a new key pair, which you can do by selecting ‘Key pairs’ from the sidebar and create a key pair instantly.
The new key pair will be downloaded to your system so be sure to keep it safe because you will want to make use of it in the future.
From the same menu, click on the Instance button to create it, then launch an instance and look for a Windows machine.
This process will give you a lot of ready-made instances, but you should start from the 2016 base which has a free tier available. Here, Amazon selects the t2 which gives you a single CPU with 1Gb of RAM and 30 by 30 Gb of hard disk space to use which is enough SSD.
The t3 micro is more than capable of running Power BI, whereas more RAM and more CPU are required to run complex analytics and a large volume of data. Now, by using AWS ec2 instance, you will be able to upgrade it at any time without losing any of your data, so starting with the free one is the best option for you and rather than going through all the options at the top of the page, simply select the preview on the Launch button, and you will get the information you need, and then click on the Launch button.
Once you do that, a window will pop up prompting you to select the key pair that you have done earlier, so you will select the name you used to store the key pair from the drop-down option, accept the agreement, and then launch the instance.
To go to the instance menu, click on the instance ID to see if your instance is ready. This process usually takes only a few seconds. Once it is launched, you can give it a custom name.
After you have named your instance, the next thing to do is click on the Connect button on top of the page. Then click the Get Password button to generate your password. It usually takes up to four minutes to generate a new password.
To get the password, you will have to use the key file that you downloaded earlier to decrypt the password, then copy the revealed password and save it somewhere for safe retrieval afterward.
To connect the server itself, copy the server name and address, then go to your Microsoft remote desktop and click on the plus sign to select desktop. Paste the server address as your PC name and create a user account with the username as Administrator and the password as the one you have previously saved. You can also give it a friendly name if you want and hit save.
Now, select the new environment and click continue to launch your new environment. It will take a few seconds to configure and you can proceed.
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If you are comfortable using Internet Explorer, you can skip this step, but I usually prefer to use Chrome, so if you want to use Chrome too, then open your internet explorer browser to download Chrome.
You will see a firewall pop up anytime you want to connect something new. Unfortunately, this happens multiple times, and you will have to press the Select and Add buttons each time it pops up until you are able to download and install Chrome.
Once you have installed Chrome, make it your default browser by opening Windows settings and selecting it as your default app. You can also add it to your taskbar to make it easier to access.
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Once you have settled everything with your browser, it’s time to add the Power BI.
On your Chrome browser, navigate to powerbi.microsoft.com and go to the footer menu to click on the Power BI Desktop button, select the advanced download option, choose English as your preferred language, and hit the Download button. Select the 64-bit version of Power BI and hit next to download.
Once the download is finished, click on the installer file and go through the installation process as you would install any other application.
Once it is installed, you can create a new account if you have never had one or sign in to your already existing account. Then go to the help bar to download some sample files, click on Samples to download any of the files via Chrome.
Click the sample file to open it and a new instance of Power BI will be created for you. Open the report to see how fast the ec2 instance allows Power BI to do a lot of data crunching.
Since this is a full Windows server, you can also install an SQL server on it or ODBC to connect the source that you want.
If you are a first-time user of this method, you may find it difficult to close this instance. You don’t have to restart or shut it down. In fact, if you attempt to restart it, it will ask you why you want to restart, so you can leave it open. To easily close the instance, click on ‘Command +Q’.
When you open the remote desktop again, it will take you right back to where you left off before closing it.
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If you want to increase the instances, make it faster on your network, or give it more RAM, you will first have to end the ec2 instance since you cannot commit any change to an instance that is still running and so you will have to stop it.
Then go to the instance settings where it will give you an interface to select the type of RAM and number of virtual CPUs. To know how much this will cost you you can search Google for AWS ec2 pricing.
The on-demand option will give you the details of the instances, so just click on the Windows tab and select your region to see a list of all of the instance types, CPUs, memory, types of storage, and hourly pricing.
The reserved instances show you what the price equates to monthly. Follow the same process as before to reveal the value per month or year. Yearly payments usually come with a percentage discount.
Note that if you choose to change the instance type, nothing will change in the installation of your data. The only thing that will change is the ipv4 address, so you can make modifications to your connections accordingly.
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There you have it. Now you know how to use Power BI on Mac by running it on a Windows server that you can access from the cloud at any point of time and use it as though you are using an actual Windows system.