When using Power Query to load data from a data source, the user has three choices as to where that data can be stored. It can go into a worksheet in the workbook, into the data model, or into both. The default behaviour (and therefore the one that will be used most commonly) is to load into a worksheet when one table is being imported, or into the data model when multiple tables are selected.
The reason for the load to worksheet default is understandable, as casual users will expect to see the data immediately after it is imported – they won’t want to open the PowerPivot model editor (which is itself turned off by default in Excel 2013). However, loading to the worksheet introduces quite a few limitations, as I’ve described (OK, whined about) mostly here, but also here and here. These limitations mostly revolve around the million row limit in Excel, the fact that data is stored in the model much more efficiently, and the file size limits when working with Power BI.
The great news is, that as of the May 2014 build of Power Query . These data loading defaults are now user configurable. If you’re taking the time to read this post, chances are that you should set them.
The defaults are Power Query wide, and are therefore located in the Power Query options. Once Excel is open, go to the Power Query tab and click the Options button.
Now, in addition to joining the Customer Experience Program, you can set your data load settings. I always import only to the model, so I check the custom option, and Load to Data Model.
I can’t be completely sure, but in my limited testing, it appears that this option setting does not sync between instances of Excel on different machines the way that other (non add in) settings do. You will therefore need to set this for every Excel installation that you have. Now if there was only a Group Policy setting that could be pushed out….
Kudos to the Power Query team for implementing this – it’s a welcome addition to the product.