Changing the culture of a Power BI Desktop file

This short article explains how to change the culture settings of a Power BI Desktop file, which by default corresponds to the locale settings of the machine used to create a Power BI Desktop file.

When you create a Power BI Desktop file, the culture of the data model copies the current locale settings of the operating system used to create the file. Changing this setting in a Power BI Desktop file is not possible from the UI. The “Regional Settings” section of the Options dialog box only affects the behavior of a query, but not the formatting provided by DAX functions such as FORMAT.

Disclaimer: this article explains how to modify the content of an undocumented file. Use these instructions at your own risk and always do a backup of the files that you modify following this procedure.

You can modify the culture settings by performing the following steps:

  1. Save the file as a template (.PBIT) using the Save As menu.
  2. Rename the .PBIT file in .ZIP
  3. Unzip the .ZIP file in a folder.
  4. Open the DataModelSchema file with a text editor. This file contains the definition of the data model in a JSON format.
  5. Modify the model/culture setting at the beginning of the file replacing the existing setting with the desired one:
  6. Repeat the same replace operation looking for the cultures section of the file:
  7. Save the file.
  8. Replace the modified DataModelSchema file in the ZIP file.
  9. Rename the .ZIP in .PBIT
  10. Open the template file (.PBIT) in Power BI – you will create a new model with the new culture settings. Because the template does not have data, it will be populated reading data from the data sources.

This technique requires to process of the model after applying the change to the culture, but there is no way to change the culture preserving the existing data in the model.