Visual Headers in Power BI

A complete guide to mastering visual headers and icons in Power BI — Part 1

Dhyanendra Singh Rathore
6 min readApr 28, 2022
Photo by Ann H from Pexels

Visual headers in Power BI offer a rich set of actions to the report end-users. A visual header in Power BI is the set of icons that pops up when you hover over a visual such as charts, maps, heat maps, etc. Visual headers extend the functionalities and enrich the user experience, readability, and interaction.

A report author can control the visibility of options (icons) available in the visual header. Power BI offers a great deal of flexibility to manage some of these icons at the individual visual level, while others are managed at the report or page level.

This article discusses the visual headers, their behavior, and how to control the visibility and appearance of header icons.

Please read our terms of use before proceeding with this article:

Report & Page Settings

Before we dig into the visual headers, it’s essential to discuss a few report and page level settings that affect the availability and behavior of icons in the visual header for a report developer and the end-users. You can set them for your report in Power BI Desktop or Power BI Service.

  • Power BI Desktop: File > Options and settings > Options > CURRENT FILE > Report settings
  • Power BI Service: Workspace > select more options for the report (⋮)> Settings

Visual Header Visibility and Styling

The visual options section contains two important settings that let developers control and hide the visual headers for all the visuals in the report.

Power BI Service: Report Settings — Visual options (Image by author)
  • Hide the visual header in the reading view: This setting has precedence over the individual visual level header visibility and can be helpful in scenarios where you want to hide visual headers for all the report elements for the end-users.
  • Use the modern visual header with updated styling options: This setting is enabled by default for all the new reports. You must turn this on for the older reports to enjoy the new and improved styling. Enabling this setting allows the header icons to adjust automatically based on your preference of layout and positioning instead of always floating over the visual. The following image shows the differences in the header icons when this setting is enabled and when it is disabled.
Power BI Service- Visual headers with and without modern styling (Image by author)

Export Data Options

Power BI report authors can control the types of data export options available to the end-users. The choices are:

  • Summarized data and data with current layout
  • Summarized data, data with current layout and underlying data
  • None

Disabling data export, i.e., option 3 greys out the Export Data option for all the visuals in the report.

Power BI Service: Report Settings — Export data setting (Image by author)

It’s important to note that if the Power BI admin portal settings for export data conflict with the report settings for export data, the admin settings will override the report settings.

Comments and Personalization

The comment feature is one of the ways a business user can collaborate with others. Disabling comments from the report settings disable the comment feature for the entire report, including the individual visuals.

At the time of writing, Power BI does not have an option to disable comments for a particular visual. It’s all or nothing.

Personalization feature empowers business users to explore and personalize visuals, all in report reading view. They don’t need edit permission for the report or go back to the report author for a change. A report author must enable the Personalize visuals feature in the report settings to allow the end-users to enjoy the personalization feature.

Power BI Service: Report Settings — Comments & Personalization settings (Image by author)

Power BI also offers you the flexibility of disabling personalization at the page level. For example, enabling personalization in report settings adds a toggle on each page in the report to disable personalization for all the visuals on that particular page.

Power BI Desktop: Report Page Settings — Visualization setting (Image by author)

Visual Headers


If the visual header is set to use the updated styling options in the report settings, the header appears inside the visual aligned with the title. For example, the header pops up within the visual in the following image and is aligned to the right at the same horizontal position as the visual’s title.

Power BI Service: Visual header behavior with title present (Image by author)

If the visual doesn’t have a title, the header floats above the visual aligned to the right.

Power BI Service: Visual header behavior without a title (Image by author)

If the visual is positioned at the top of the report, the header snaps to the bottom of the visual aligned to the right.

Power BI Service: Visual header without a title and aligned to top (Image by author)

Visibility & Formatting Appearance

Visual headers are available for all types of elements in Power BI, such as visuals, text boxes, shapes, buttons, and images. By default, header icons are disabled for images and text boxes and enabled for visuals, shapes, and buttons.

Each component has a card in the Formatting > General section of the Visualizations pane called Header icons in Power BI Desktop (Visual header in Power BI Service). The toggle enables and disables the visual header in the reading mode.

Power BI Desktop: Visual header icon appearance settings (Image by author)

You can adjust all sorts of appearance characteristics of the visual header under the Colors card. It’s worth noting that it’s not possible to format the appearance of the individual icons; adjustments apply to all the icons at once.


Power BI Service: Visual header icons (Image by author)

The Icons card below the Colors card contains the toggles to show or hide the individual icons on the header in the reading mode. The Help tooltip card is not visible by default, and it becomes available for editing once the Help tooltip toggle is enabled.

Since the UI differs between Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service, it’s easy to miss out that some toggles are only available in the Service and not in the Desktop. In addition, the terminology differs for a few toggles.

Power BI: Visual header icon settings — Desktop vs. Service (Image by author)

It’s important to point out that the visibility of toggles does not affect the report when you are authoring or editing the report (except for the Help tooltip and Personalize visual icons). You must publish the report and view it in reading mode to see the effect. This behavior ensures that the essential options are available in visual headers during editing, especially warning icons that alert you to issues while editing.

The following table summarizes the available toggles, their icons, and considerations that determine their availability and applicability. For instance, drill icons require a visual to have hierarchical data to show up in the visual header. However, their toggles are always available in the settings.

Power BI: Visual header icon summary (Image by author)

That’s all about the visual headers. The following article discusses each icon in the visual header and the actions available under the More option in detail.

Like this post? Connect with Dhyan

Let’s be friends! You can find me on LinkedIn or join me on Medium.