Skip to content

Contact sales

By filling out this form and clicking submit, you acknowledge our privacy policy.

How to use Copilot to build a canvas app in Microsoft Power Apps

Learn how you can use Copilot and generative AI to build a canvas app in Power Apps—even if you don’t have coding or software development experience.

Apr 17, 2024 • 4 Minute Read

Please set an alt value for this image...
  • Business
  • AI & Machine Learning

The beauty of Microsoft’s Power Apps platform is its no-code approach to building applications. In other words, virtually anyone can be an app creator, even if you don’t understand the complexities of code and software development. But you’ll still need to know the basics of data modeling, how to write formulas with Power Fx, and the various nuances of pulling your data into the user interface.

With Copilot, things just got a lot easier! Now you can build apps through conversation. Just describe your app idea, and Copilot will get busy building it for you. It’ll create the underlying Dataverse tables for your app and then pull that data out to a user interface you can modify until it’s just right.

In this article, I’ll guide you through building a canvas app from scratch with Copilot as your helper.

Table of contents

How to enable Copilot in Power Apps

First things first. Before you can use Copilot, you need to enable it in your Power Apps environment.

1. Navigate to the Power Platform admin center. (You may be prompted to log in.)

2. Select your environment then navigate to Settings.

3. Under Product, select Features.

4. In the Copilot section and the AI Builder section, toggle the settings to On.

You’ll also need to have a Dataverse database in your environment to use the Copilot functionality.

How to create a new canvas app using Copilot

Now that you’ve enabled everything, it’s time to start building. The Copilot functionality is available on the Maker home screen at

Make sure you’re in the correct environment at the top right. (This is a common gotcha that will come up again later.) Then describe the app you want to build.

I’ll use an example of a Party Planning Committee. They’ve asked for an app to plan their events. So let’s enter: Let's build a party planning app for my office. I need to create events, add details, and add people to them.

Based on what you describe, Copilot will build out the Dataverse table(s) that will drive the application.

Review the table that Copilot created. If you spot things you want to change, just ask. In my example, I’d like to add columns for the event description, as well as the start time and end time for the event. You’ll see that those changes were made after I asked.

You can also ask to change data types, rename columns, delete columns, and so on. Once you’re happy with the table, click Create app.

Depending on which environment you started in, you might get an error message about not having proper access. I was accidentally in my default environment when I began creating the app, which is easy to do.

If you already have another environment you’d like to create the app in, back up and start over in the right environment. If you want Power Apps to create a new environment for you, then click Create in my own environment.

Copilot then saves the Dataverse table and creates a new canvas app with a simple UI to display your data. 

How to edit a canvas app using Copilot

After Copilot has created the requisite Dataverse table(s) and canvas app, it will launch Power Apps Studio where you can edit the app.

Looking at Tree view, you’ll see it did a lot of work already! You’ve got screens and various controls to display the data. 

At this point, you can edit the UI and continue to build it out by hand, just like you have in the past. But you can also get some help from Copilot. And just in case Copilot closed, you can always open it on the top right of the screen.

To edit the application, you can ask Copilot to do things like style a single control, bulk edit all controls, add a screen, or configure navigation. As of today, these are the controls Copilot supports:

  • Screen

  • Horizontal and vertical containers

  • Gallery

  • Edit form

  • Button

  • Text label

  • Text input

Here are some ideas of things you can change:

  • Add a new screen

  • Add a new button

  • Add a new text label

  • Change all buttons to blue

  • Add a button to the selected container

  • When clicking on Button1, navigate to Screen2

I was also able to do things like adding an icon to the header of a screen.

Clicking on Sort, filter, and search for a gallery control brings up helpful suggestions for formulas you can enter on the control.

In some cases, even if Copilot won’t actually do the thing for you, it will provide helpful instructions for how to do it yourself. For example, it explained how I could change the app orientation.

However, your mileage may vary with some updates. Remember this is in Preview mode and will continue to get better. Here are some hurdles I encountered for my particular application:

Wrapping up: Discover more ways to use Copilot and GenAI

And that’s a wrap! At this point, you should have a good idea of how to use Copilot to create and edit a canvas app in Microsoft Power Apps. This is a great example of how citizen developers can create business applications using conversation instead of code.

If you want to dig deeper on generative AI and what Microsoft is doing in this space, check out these additional resources:

Amber Israelsen

Amber I.

Amber has been a software developer and technical trainer since the early 2000s. In recent years, she has focused on teaching AI, machine learning, AWS and Power Apps, teaching students around the world. She also works to bridge the gap between developers, designers and businesspeople with her expertise in visual communication, user experience and business/professional skills. She holds certifications in machine learning, AWS, a variety of Microsoft technologies, and is a former Microsoft Certified Trainer.

More about this author