Custom Power BI buttons are the secret sauce to making beautiful reports and dashboards. Creating and adding buttons to your report gives developers more options for page navigation, changing the visibility of page elements, and even linking to external pages.
We’ll explore what Power BI buttons are, how to add them, how to add them using your own custom graphics, or build them with combinations of built in shapes and text to give your next Power BI report a custom design.
Let’s jump in!
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What are Power BI Buttons?
Buttons in Power BI are interactive elements that can perform actions, navigate between pages, or even execute complex tasks when clicked. They enhance user experience, making your reports more intuitive and dynamic. In fact, it’s possible that you have already used buttons and you may not even know it. The example below from a Microsoft Sales Sample dashboard integrates different design elements where users can push buttons and switch between pages and views.
When working with buttons in Power BI there can be overlap with Tile slicers as well. The Tile slicer is formatted to look like a button, and sometimes is the quickest way to add navigation to your page that dynamically updates based on field values in your dataset.
Slicers are an important tool in your Power BI toolbox and can overlap with the use of buttons. However, slicers are not nearly as versatile as buttons.
When You Should Use Buttons in Power BI
In many cases buttons are a design choice for a dashboard designer. With the ability to add custom images and turn them into buttons you can make a dashboard go from okay to great. Buttons can be designed in any number of popular graphics packages, such as Photoshop, Figma, or Canva.
The second use case for adding buttons to a dashboard is the ability to define custom functions with them. You can assign items such as going to back or forward on a page, refreshing a dataset, or clearing all slicers. With Power BI’s recent improved integration with Power Automate, Microsoft’s Cloud RPA tool, you can start a number of actions from Power BI that interact with other systems.
Buttons can streamline the user experience, provide easier navigation, and enable a set of actions to be performed seamlessly, enhancing the efficiency of the report.
How to Add Buttons in Power BI
Adding buttons in Power BI is a simple process but allows for high levels of customization. To add a button, navigate to Insert, Buttons, on the Power BI Ribbon at the top of the page. A menu will appear with a number of button pre-sets ranging from left and right arrows, back arrows, bookmarks and the ability to clear slicers or navigate between bookmarks.
Choose the type of button you want to insert into your Power BI dashboard and it will create a new design element on the page.
Depending on the type of button that’s been added to a page it can either have actions already preset with it such as a Bookmark Navigator that works like a slicer for switching between bookmarks, or a alternatively a button like a left arrow will not necessarily have an action assigned.
Once you’ve added an image to the page, you’ll need to tell Power BI what you want the button to do when clicked.
How to Assign Actions to Power BI Buttons
Buttons are useful only if they perform actions. Power BI allows a range of actions to be assigned. To assign an action, click on a newly inserted button or image, and navigate to the Format Panel on the right side of the screen, and navigate to: Format Options, Shape, Action.
Make sure that Action is enabled and you will see a dropdown box of the different actions that you can assign to a button.
Available button actions in Power BI include the following types:
- Back – Takes users to the previously viewed page.
- Bookmark – Lets users navigate to a saved snapshot view of a dashboard.
- Drill Through – Navigates to a smaller focused page.
- Page Navigation – Switches the page or tab that a viewer is looking at.
- Q&A – Launches a box where users can ask questions in natural language about their data.
- Web URL – Enables links to external sources, for example additional documentation or detail.
- Apply all Slicers – Turns all slicers on a page on.
- Clear all Slicers – Clears all selected slicers when button is pushed.
With so many different built in button actions, there is typically a way to give users the ability to view any combination of data or set of visuals. Power BI report tabs and visuals can be hidden from regular user view and only made available by navigating to them with a button.
Adding Custom Images for Buttons in Power BI
For added design flexibility, custom designed buttons can be imported by inserting an image from the Insert section of the Power BI Ribbon. A windows file explorer window will open allowing you to select an image that you want to import as a button. The image does have to already be created and saved to a folder that you can access with Power BI.
Once an image is added, you can assign a button action to it. Custom images are great for making beautiful reports using software like Photoshop or Figma that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
Custom images are packaged as part of the .pbix file and will automatically be included in your report when you publish it to the Power BI Service.
Creating Custom Buttons with Shapes and Text in Power BI
Another option to create custom buttons is to Insert Shapes and Text Boxes into a Power BI Dashboard. Place a Text box on top of a shape to label the button. Navigate to Insert, Shapes on the Power BI Ribbon. The Shapes and Text Box buttons are in the same design elements section of the ribbon making them easy to access. Add a desired shape and a text box as two separate elements on the page.
By using the Group feature, you can combine text with a shape, such as the rectangle below to make working with buttons easier. When you group design elements in Power BI it will make it easier to move them. Instead of having to move a rectangle shape and a text box they become combined into one block.
Once a button is created with a custom shape and text, button actions can be assigned to it to perform any of the available desired actions.
Power BI supports a number of advanced button formatting options to make them even more interactive, such as changing the color when hovered over, or clicked. You can even combine custom icons with shapes and text for professional looking buttons with a custom touch.
The following video from Guy in a Cube provides some great ideas of ways to setup advanced buttons.
As you can see the options with Power BI buttons are only limited by your imagination!
Power BI buttons can significantly improve your dashboard’s interactivity, utility, and user experience. They bring important actions to the forefront so report viewers don’t have to learn how to navigate all of the small buttons and settings that are available in the platform when looking at a report.
Buttons also give developers more control and can create curated experiences to toggle visuals, slicers, and even jump between tabs or reference data outside of the Power BI ecosystem.
Learning how to effectively use buttons can go a long way in making your reports more effective and user-friendly.