The matched filtering technique that uses the cross correlation of a waveform of interest with archived signals from a template library has proven to be a powerful tool for detecting events in regions with repeating seismicity. However, waveform correlation is computationally expensive and therefore impractical for large template sets unless dedicated distributed computing hardware and software are used. In this study, we introduce an approximate nearest neighbor (ANN) approach that enables the use of very large template libraries for waveform correlation. Our method begins with a projection into a reduced dimensionality space, based on correlation with a randomized subset of the full template archive. Searching for a specified number of nearest neighbors for a query waveform is accomplished by iteratively comparing it with the neighbors of its immediate neighbors. We used the approach to search for matches to each of analyst‐reviewed signal detections reported in May 2010 for the International Monitoring System station MKAR. The template library in this case consists of a data set of more than 200,000 analyst‐reviewed signal detections for the same station from February 2002 to July 2016 (excluding May 2010). Of these signal detections, 73% are teleseismic first P and 17% regional phases (Pn, Pg, Sn, and Lg). The analyses performed on a standard desktop computer show that the proposed ANN approach performs a search of the large template libraries about 25 times faster than the standard full linear search and achieves recall rates greater than 80%, with the recall rate increasing for higher correlation thresholds.