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How to Enable Cortana and Quick Insights with Power BI

This post will be quick. On December 1, 2015, the Power BI team announced that the Quick Insights feature and Cortana integration were now included on Power BI. They are not, however, turned on by default. Since the announcement didn’t have much “how to” in it, I thought that I’d post this. Both are very simple to do. Both features are tied to the data source, so if you’re working with a shared data set, you’ll need to get the owner of the data set to do this.

Cortana Integration

To start with, Cortana integration requires that you be running Windows 10, with the November 2015 update (1511). Of course, you also need to have Cortana enabled. If you do, open up Power BI in a browser, and navigate to your data source. Click on the ellipsis (…) and select “Schedule Refresh”. No, we won’t be scheduling a refresh, but this is a bit of a shortcut. You can also select the settings gear in the upper right, select settings, select the Datasets tab, and then select your dataset.

Once open, you’ll see a new section titled “Cortana” open it up, select the “Enable Cortana to access this dataset” checkbox, apply the changes, and you’re done.

If Cortana has already been connected to Office 365, you may not see any results right away – I know that I didn’t on two different machines. Thanks to David Eldersveld of Blue Granite, I found the solution in a big hurry. All that is necessary to get Cortana to wake up and start using Q&A in Power BI is to disconnect from your Office 365 account and then reconnect. If you’re having trouble, try that.

You should now be able to ask questions of your data directly from Cortana. Very, very cool.

Quick Insights

Using Quick Insights is even easier. From the Power BI service, locate your dataset, click on the dataset, and select “Quick Insights”.

Once selected, the service will display a dialog “Searching for Insights” while it scans the data and builds interesting visualizations. Once done, you can select “View Insights” from the dialog, or, you can select it from the data source ellipsis later on. This is important to know as that dialog box disappears pretty quickly. Clicking “View Insight” will show you a page with all of the visualizations that the service thought were important or interesting. Here is an example using our tyGraph product, which analyzes Yammer data.

It’s pretty slick really. I’ll be playing with this a fair bit in the coming days.


  1. Arthur Jenkins Arthur Jenkins

    Thanks for the information. Could someone please explain how to disconnect from my Office 365 account and then reconnect.

  2. Arthur – I can’t post images in a comment, so I’ll try to describe it. Open Cortana from your task bar. On ther left is a column of icons – click the one under the house icon (home). Then select “Connected accounts”. From there, you can turn your Office 365 account on/off.

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