Picture windows offer a perfect look at the outside world — which almost starts to look like a moving picture that simultaneously lets a lot of light in. These large windows additionally provide a natural focal point that allows an architectural element inside or outside the home to shine. If you’re planning some upgrades, you may wonder if you can enjoy the best of both worlds and get a large picture window that opens.

Can You Get a Picture Window That Opens?

We won’t leave you hanging — the answer is “no.” Picture windows are, by definition, stationary windows that can’t open. You do have a few great picture window alternatives to consider, though!

What Is a Picture Window?

Picture windows are large, wide windows with low-profile frames. The panes used for picture windows are typically made with reinforced glazing bars to maximize the stability of such a large window. These windows can’t open for the same reason — picture windows exist to give you a perfect view, to “frame” the outside world, and to make a bold architectural statement.

Picture windows are usually placed in living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens, and offer many benefits:

  • They give a wonderful view.
  • They allow the room they’re in to be flooded with beautiful natural light.
  • They visually support the home’s architecture and enhance the appearance of your property when viewed from outside and at a distance.

Picture windows cannot, on the other hand, open. That means they don’t give you the benefits of fresh air and ventilation, which are so important for indoor air quality and mold prevention.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that only the large pane in the center is called a picture window. Smaller windows, set to the side, can open and give you the fresh air you need while still allowing you to enjoy an amazing view.

Picture Window Configurations That Maximize Your View and Comfort

Picture windows — large, wide windows with low frames specifically aimed at offering a great view and lots of natural light — can sometimes stand alone. More often, however, they’re incorporated into combination windows. The good news? The smaller windows that accompany picture windows can be designed to open!

The most common picture window configurations include:

  • “XOX” — a central picture window flanked by two smaller windows, both of which can be designed to open.
  • Smaller and ventilating window panes are set to the top of the picture window.
  • Smaller and ventilating window panes are set to the bottom of the picture window.

You can get really creative here, and incorporate a variety of these styles to create your own. Smaller panes can flank a central picture window, for instance, while you also add smaller windows that let fresh air in at the top. These arrangements can add function and beauty.

The flanking windows can use a variety of styles:

  • Sash windows are a popular choice. They open vertically, allowing you to slide them up or down depending on the style.
  • Horizontal sliding windows slide open horizontally, temporarily placing them over the picture window.
  • Casement windows are hinged and open toward the outside of your home.
  • Awning windows open diagonally, from the bottom, toward the outside of your home. They are a good choice if you are having smaller panes installed atop a picture window.

So, Can You Get a Picture Window That Opens?

A picture window is a wide and large window that remains stationary — and therefore can’t open. If you’re after a window configuration that includes a picture window, however, you can enjoy a great view and a lot of fresh air.

You can opt for flanking windows that open, have smaller ventilating window panes installed to the bottom or top of a picture window, or do both. These creative arrangements result in a beautiful look that offers function as well as style.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Operable Windows

Operable windows offer several benefits over traditional fixed windows, but they also come with their own set of drawbacks.


  • Improved Ventilation: One of the primary advantages of operable windows is the ability to introduce fresh air into the space. Unlike fixed windows, which cannot be opened, operable windows can be hinged or equipped with crank mechanisms to allow for ventilation.
  • Easier Cleaning: Operable windows are typically easier to clean than fixed ones. Being able to access both the interior and exterior surfaces from inside the building simplifies the cleaning process, as there’s no need for ladders or special equipment.
  • Enhanced Flexibility: Operable windows provide greater flexibility in controlling airflow and temperature within a room. Opening the window allows occupants to regulate the amount of fresh air entering the space, offering a more comfortable environment.


  • Design Limitations: While operable windows offer functionality, they may have design limitations compared to traditional fixed windows. The mechanisms required for operability can sometimes detract from the clean lines and minimalist aesthetic that are characteristic of picture windows.
  • Potential for Drafts: Unlike fixed windows, which are sealed shut, operable windows may be susceptible to drafts if not properly installed or maintained. Seals and weatherstripping must be carefully installed to ensure optimal energy efficiency.
  • Limited Size Options: Operable windows are generally available in smaller sizes compared to fixed windows. Large operable windows may pose structural challenges and require additional support, which can increase costs and complexity.

Discount Window and Door of Omaha

At Discount Window and Door of Omaha, we are committed to providing the best quality doors and replacement windows. We employ the most skilled installers to ensure the highest standard of quality service. Our Omaha door and window installers are highly trained, certified industry professionals with years of experience, including some second and third-generation employees.

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(402) 884-8989