Written By Rick de Groot

Rick is the founder of BI Gorilla. He believes learning is one of life's greatest pleasures and shares his knowledge to help you improve your skills.

Want to know the best ways to share reports in Power BI? You’re in the right place. This comprehensive guide will share 7 methods for Power BI report sharing, so you know exactly how to share Power BI reports effectively.

We’ll cover everything from classic techniques, such as sharing via Power BI apps or direct report sharing, to lesser-known strategies like using Microsoft Teams or embedding reports. Plus, you will find the pros and cons of each method and my recommendations.

So, let’s get started and learn how to share your reports effectively.

Table of contents

Traditional Sharing

PBIX File

One approach to sharing Power BI reports is through PBIX files. These are the files you create and save when working on a report or dataset in Power BI Desktop. Simply put, if someone has the PBIX file, they can open and view the report.

Share PBIX file

Pros

  • No need for licenses: This method is free of licensing constraints.
  • No workspace or app access required: Recipients can view the report without special permissions.
  • Offline availability: The report can be accessed without an internet connection.
  • Snapshot in time: The file provides a static snapshot, allowing you to revisit the current data state later.

Cons

  • No automatic refresh: Data won’t update in real time.
  • Lacks row-level security: This method doesn’t support security settings for individual data rows.
  • Access control limitations: It’s challenging to monitor who has the file and thus, has access to the report.
  • Manual sharing required: This process needs to be done by hand, adding an extra layer of work.

While sharing via PBIX files may seem convenient, it offers little security and control. Developers must diligently manage their files and versions.

Despite its few advantages, I generally advise against using this as your go-to method for sharing Power BI reports.

Direct Sharing

A commonly used approach to share Power BI reports is through direct sharing. After you upload a report to the Power BI service, it becomes available in your chosen workspace. From there, you can directly share the report with individuals or security groups.

To directly share a report, simply open the report within a workspace. Once the report is open, you’ll find the “Share” option in the taskbar at the top of the screen.

Direct Share of Reports in Power BI

Pros

  • No workspace or app access required: The recipient doesn’t need special permissions to see the report.
  • Granular content visibility: You can specify exactly what content each recipient can see at the report level.
  • Resharing and building controls: You can set who has the ability to reshare the report or create new reports based on the underlying dataset.
  • Compatible with My Workspace: This method works even for reports stored in your personal workspace.

Cons

  • Access tracking challenges: It’s not easy to monitor who has access to the report.
  • Bulk application difficulties: Applying sharing settings to multiple reports requires configuring each report individually.

Direct sharing offers a convenient way to quickly distribute a report, even one stored in My Workspace.

However, the method does come with its challenges, primarily when it comes to tracking access and managing sharing settings across multiple reports.

It gives you control over resharing permissions and dataset usage but requires meticulous management to ensure secure and appropriate access.

Workspace

Another efficient way to share Power BI reports is through workspaces. Granting a user or a security group access to a workspace allows them to see all its contents, including any future updates or additions.

To give access to a workspace, navigate to the specific workspace and click on “Access.” From there, enter the user’s email and assign them a role, which will determine their level of permissions.

Access to Workspace in Power BI

Pros

  • Future-proof: Users with access to the workspace can view any new content automatically.
  • Central repository: Provides a single location where multiple reports can be accessed.
  • Update control: Mistakes in report updates only affect the workspace’s corresponding app after you explicitly update the app.

Cons

  • Wide-ranging access: Depending on the role assigned, a user may have full access to create, delete, or share items within the workspace, as well as publish content to an app.

After a report is shared via a workspace, users can find the shared reports under “Browse” followed by the “Shared with Me” section. Alternatively, a direct link to the report can be shared, although this requires the recipient to save the link for future access.

Workspace sharing is particularly useful for those responsible for report maintenance or who need an overview of activities within the workspace.

However, this approach might not be ideal for general report consumers, even if they are assigned a viewer role, due to the broad access permissions involved.

Power BI App

For a custom designed approach to sharing, consider using a Power BI App. This gives users a read-only view of selected workspace content. With the new app experience, you can even define multiple audiences within the same Power BI App.

To launch an app, start by creating a workspace. Once you’ve published content to this workspace, choose the “Create App” option. After setting up the app, users with the proper authorization can access it via the “Apps” section on the Power BI service platform.

Pros

  • Design the Experience: Bundle multiple forms of content, like reports, custom navigation, and even links or videos.
  • Stable Views: Apps display cached report versions, so changes appear only after you update the app.
  • Controlled Access: Specify what each audience can see and configure report-specific access.
  • Deployment Support: Compatible with deployment pipelines for more streamlined updates.

Cons

  • One App Limitation: Despite the ability to serve multiple audiences, each workspace can host only one app.

Power BI Apps are an excellent choice for those looking to offer a convenient, secure way to share reports. It has my recommendation.

Not only does this method let you customize the user experience, but it also ensures that any new content is immediately available via the existing app link.

Other Sharing Methods

Besides the traditional sharing methods, you can find other methods to share reports in Power BI. I will cover some here.

Tab in Teams

A convenient way to access a report is through a Teams chat or channel. You can easily embed a Power BI report within a Teams chat/channel. To do that, you:

  • Go to the desired chat or channel in Teams.
  • Click the “+” icon located at the top right corner, which triggers the “Add a Tab” pop-up.
  • Choose “Power BI” from the list.
  • Pick the report you want to embed and click “Save.”
Add Power BI Report to Teams

After saving your report, a new tab appears in the channel/chat. To access the report, you can now simply click on the tab.

Note on Access: Standard Power BI access rules still apply here. Users need a Power BI license to view the report, and Row Level Security settings remain intact within the tab.

Mobile App

You can easily access Power BI reports using the Power BI mobile app, available for both Android and iOS platforms. After downloading the app and logging in, reports appear much like they do on desktop. However, these default views might not be user-friendly on smaller screens.

For a better mobile experience, developers can adjust views and optimize them for smartphones. To set this up:

  • Open the report you want to optimize in Power BI Desktop.
  • Go to the “View” tab located in the top menu.
  • Choose “Mobile Layout.”
Configure Mobile Layout for Reports in Power Bi

This allows developers to design a mobile-friendly canvas, making reports more readable and interactive on mobile devices.

Embed Reports

You have several options for integrating Power BI reports into various platforms. These methods are compatible with all Power BI license types, except the free version.

To set up any of these options, open the report you wish to embed. Navigate to “File,” then “Embed Report,” and select the method that best suits your needs.

Embed Report in Power Bi

Summary

We’ve explored various approaches for sharing Power BI reports, each with its own advantages and limitations. Whether it’s through mobile apps, direct browser access, SharePoint pages, or Teams channels, you have an array of options to distribute your reports effectively.

As Power BI continues to evolve, the ways to share reports are only expanding, offering you greater flexibility and control. Choose the method that best aligns with your needs to make the most out of Power BI’s capabilities.

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