Understanding Power BI Filters: A Step by Step Guide

on BI Tool, Business Intelligence, Data Analytics, Power BI • March 4th, 2022 • Write for Hevo

Power BI Filters- Featured Image

Power BI filters refine your data sets to produce and display data that is relevant to you. Using a filter in Power BI, you can:

  • Work with smaller parts of your data.
  • Do calculations for particular groups of interest.
  • Exclude “bad” data from data visualizations.
  • Train and validate statistical models.

Offering a humongous set of features and Microsoft Apps native integration support, Power BI is a highly performant columnar database that can expedite data insights and collaboration for your teams. 

Whether you are new to Power BI filters or just want to sort data for your next report, this guide will be particularly useful to you. We’ll share the basics and benefits of Power BI filters, how you can use them at different levels, and how you can see which filters are applied at what level. 

Table of Contents

What is Power BI?

Power BI Business Intelligence: Power BI Filter
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The Gartner Magic Quadrant Report has rewarded Microsoft Power BI as the leader in the Business Intelligence industry for 14 consecutive years. Clearly, that explains a lot about Power BI.

Power BI is a Microsoft Business Intelligence suite to analyze data and share insights. It features capabilities such as:

  • Dataset filtration,  
  • Visual-based data discovery, 
  • Interactive dashboards, 
  • Augmented analytics,
  • Natural Language Q & A Question Box,
  • Office 365 App Launcher, and many more.

Microsoft Power BI runs on desktop and mobile, on the cloud, which means your teams can collate, manage, and analyze data from anywhere. It allows you to upload data from multiple sources like Excel, CSV, SQL Server, MySQL database, PDF, Access, XML, JSON, and a plethora more. 

Microsoft Power BI collects, analyzes, and transforms your data into actionable insights. These insights are frequently provided using aesthetically appealing and simple-to-understand charts and graphs, which enables faster decision-making in your organization. When combined with Azure Cloud, Power BI can accelerate big data preparation and analysis and reduce your time to decision planning tremendously.

For more information on Power BI, do check out Understanding Microsoft Power BI: A Comprehensive Guide. If your organization uses Microsoft Azure cloud to store, manage and access information, you can combine your Azure cloud with Power BI using this guide- Connect Azure to Power BI: A Comprehensive Guide.

Business Benefits of Power BI

  • Interactive & Easy-to-Use Interface: Nothing can be more beneficial than a simple-to-use interface with a drag and drop functionality that lets you create data visualizations using a few clicks. Microsoft Power BI enables everyone at every level of your organization to make confident decisions using up-to-the-minute analytics.
  • Multiple Dataset Sources: Using Power BI, you can import data from a plethora of data sources with support for both structured and unstructured data.
  • Industry-leading AI: Microsoft’s strong base in artificial intelligence enables Power BI users to prepare data, build machine learning models, and find insights quickly from both structured and unstructured data.
  • Exceptional Excel Integration: With Power BI your users can easily collect, analyze, publish, and share Excel business data. Excel queries, data models, and reports can be readily connected to Power BI Dashboards by anybody who is acquainted with Office 365.
  • Real-time Stream Analytics: Power BI fetches real-time data insights into your data visualizations to keep your teams up-to-date and ready to make the right decisions. 
  • Turn Insights to Action: Using Microsoft Power Platform, your teams can deliver actions quickly by combining Power BI with Power Apps and Power Automate. Using Microsoft’s strong integration, your users can easily build business applications and automate workflows.

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What is a Power BI Filter?

Power BI filters are essentially functions that allow you to isolate a smaller part of your entire data set and analyze it more easily. Filters separate information that is relevant at the time from irrelevant or extraneous data that would not help you in decision-making.

Power BI filters don’t delete your unwanted or extraneous data. Instead, this data is dimmed down and only the important fields get highlighted. 

To apply Power BI filters to your data, you can visit the Filters pane on the right side of your Power BI screen. Here you can mark the criteria by which you want to sort your data and view new information related to that on your dashboard. 

Power BI Filter Pane: Power BI Filter
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Types of Power BI Filters

There are four types of Power BI filters available in the Microsoft Power BI platform:

  • Visual Filters: Visual filters sort data in a data visual like table, chart, card, slicer, etc. These are applied to both the data and the calculation conditions used within the visualization. To apply a visual filter, you just have to click a visual and select your filters from the Filters pane.
  • Page Filters: Page filter applies filters to all its included visuals. To use your page-level filters, you can use the option “Filters on this page” from the Filters pane. Page filters are incredibly helpful while preparing company-wide reports, wherein you can create separate filters for separate pages of your Sales, Marketing, and Support. 
  • Report Filters: Report filters work on the entire report (collection of pages). These are universal filters that sort everything included in your report.
  • Drillthrough Filters: Drillthrough filter allows you to create a destination report page that focuses on a specific entity. For example, if you would like to prepare data visualizations for your top-performing region, you can use drill through filters and prepare a separate page catering to all the important aspects of your region.

Here’s a snapshot of the hierarchy available in the Power BI Filters pane. Starting from the top, you have “Filters on this visual” or Visual filters, then “Filters on this page” or Page filters followed by “Filters on all pages” or Report filters. 

Power BI Filter Hierarchy: Power BI Filter
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What are the Different Sorts of Filtering Methods in Power BI?

When running your report, you can choose between two modes for each filter: Basic Filtering and Advanced Filtering.

Basic Filtering provides you with a scrollable and searchable list of values. Simply type a term or identifier into the search box to find a value, and the list of possible values will refresh automatically based on your search parameters. The white checkboxes to the left of each entry can then be used to choose one or more entries from the list. Following a search for the keyword “communication,” the Organization filter appears in the screenshot below.

Power BI Filter: basic filtering
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You won’t see a list of values to choose from with Advanced Filtering, but you can use rules to establish a range of values the report will return. You can tell the report to show all transactions with a value greater than or equal to $10,000, for example. The Organization filter appears after a search for all Orgs beginning with 35 or starting with 295. The screenshot below is from the Operating Budget Report and shows the Organization filter after a search for all Orgs beginning with 35 or starting with 295.

After you’ve decided which rules to employ, click the “Apply filter” button on the filter card to recalculate the report.

Power BI Filter: advanced filtering
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How to Add a Power BI Filter to a Visual?

Important Note: To be able to use Power BI filters, access your Power BI dashboard in the Editing view. If you access your report in the Reading view, you cannot edit, i.e., add or remove filters that are applied to the report.

Power BI filters for data visualizations can be added in two ways:

  • Use predefined data fields as filters in your visual. These can be accessed from the available options under the header “Filters on this visual tab”.
  • Use a new or custom field that isn’t available in the visual as a Power BI filter. To add such new filters, follow the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Select the Edit option from the top pane in your Power BI dashboard. 

Step 2: Expand Visualizations, Filters, and Fields panes from the right side. 

Power BI Visualizations, Filters, and Fields Panes: Power BI Filter
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Step 3: Choose the graphic to which you wish to apply the new filter. When you pick a visual, the fields for that visual will appear in the Visualizations window. They are also listed in the Filters pane, under the Filters heading on this visual.

Power BI Filters on this Visual: Power BI Filter
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Step 4: Select the field you wish to add as a new visual-level filter from the Fields pane and drag it into the Filters on this visual area. In this example, we drag Category to the Add data fields here section.

Power BI Choose Category: Power BI Filter
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Step 5: Pick your new filter from the scroll-down menu. The new filter(s) will be applied but the other visuals will remain the same. 

Power BI Choose New Filter: Power BI Filter
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Note: When you drag a numeric column to the Filters pane to create a visual-level filter, the filter is applied to the rows of data underlying it.

How to Add a Power BI Filter to a Page?

To add a Power BI filter to a page, follow these steps:

Step 1: Select the Edit option from the top pane in your Power BI dashboard. 

Step 2: Expand Visualizations, Filters, and Fields panes from the right side. 

Step 3: Select your page-level filter from the Fields pane and drag it into the Filters on this page area. In this example, we drag the field District Manager to the Filters on this page section.

Power BI Add Filter to a Page: Power BI Filter
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Step 4: Check the values you wish to arrange your data by. Your filtering controls can also be adjusted to Basic or Advanced

Basic filtering provides you with a list of values that are scrollable and searchable in your page/report. Advanced filtering, on the other hand, specifies rules to determine the range of values your page/report will return. 

With this, all of your selected Power BI filter(s) will now be applied to your page.

How to Add a Power BI Filter to a Report?

As a precursor, report-level filters apply globally and hence before applying your Power BI filters make sure to verify your included pages in the report.  

To apply report-level filters to your Power BI report, use the steps mentioned below:

Step 1: Select the Edit option from the top pane in your Power BI dashboard. 

Step 2: Expand Visualizations, Filters, and Fields panes from the right side. 

Step 3: Select your filter(s) from the Fields pane and drag it into the Report level filters area.

Step 4: Pick the values using which you want to filter your data.  Your selected Power BI filter(s) will now be applied to your report.

How to Know What is Filtered?

It’s common for people to forget the applied Power BI filters on their visuals. To know which filters are currently in action when you view a visual, simply mouse over the small filter icon in the upper right corner of your graphic.

Power BI Know What is Filtered: Power BI Filter
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When you place your mouse on it, you can view the current filters for that graphic without having to squirm and double-check your settings in the Filters pane.

Slicers vs Filters in Power BI- What’s the Difference?

Power BI slicers are simple filters that work on your visuals. They help you sort information and design customized charts on the go. Slicers enable data analysts to compare comparable reports quickly and easily by displaying commonly used filters on the report canvas. 

Filter in Power BI differs from slicer in two aspects:

  • Power BI filters encompass filtering for data in your entire selection, whereas slicers work only on the visuals. As an example, using the Power BI filter on a page would mean all of your data contained inside the page would be sorted according to your specified filter(s). A slicer can only be configured on a certain object like a bar chart, pie chart, or some other visual. 
  • Filter in Power BI is rigid, which means that once you apply your filter(s) on a certain level, the entire data contained within that segment would be affected. Since slicers work on an object level, they allow for customization and can be programmed to create different filters for different objects. 

Once you’ve configured the Power BI slicer, you can quickly access your visual-level filters by using a checkbox list or a dropdown list beside your visual.

Power BI Slicer: Power BI Filter
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New Filter Experience for Power BI Reports

With a redesign of the Power BI Filters pane, you can now modify the look and feel of your Filters pane to complement it with your report. The available options that can be modified include:

  • Background color
  • Background transparency
  • Border on or off
  • Border color
  • Title and header font, color, and text size

To do so, simply click the background (wallpaper). From the Visualizations pane, select Format. Expand the Filters pane to customize the color of the report page’s background, icon, and left border.

Customize Power BI Filters Pane: Power BI Filter
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If you would like to hide the Filters pane in Reading mode, select the eye icon next to Filters.

Hide Filters Pane: Power BI Filter
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To lock or hide individual filter cards, select or clear the Lock filter or Hide filter icons on a filter card from the Filters pane.

Lock and Hide Filter Cards: Power BI Filter
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With this, we hope now you are more confident in creating and using your own filter in Power BI. Discover more information about Microsoft Power BI and its features in some of our other helpful blogs:

Conclusion

Filters in Power BI are valuable tools to sort data, visualize and compare your data visualizations and prepare reports. Filters enable you to control your pages/reports, eliminate unnecessary data, pace head straight on what’s supposed to be done, and make decisions fast. 

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Have more ideas or Power BI features you would like us to cover? Drop a comment below to let us know. 

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